Motor vehicle theft occurs when one’s vehicle is taken by another without permission. Technically, such theft would be considered a larceny under the law. A larceny, in simplest terms, is any theft of personal property. However, due to the severity of motor vehicle theft, and the frequency that they occur, the government has designated this form of theft its own category. Thus, motor vehicle theft has its own punishments and laws that come with it.
Penalties For Motor Vehicle Theft
Typically, motor vehicle theft is classified as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the state and severity of the crime. However, some states have additional nuanced penalties depending on the type of motor vehicle theft committed. For example, in the state of Alaska, operating the vehicle in “a dangerous way” during the theft increases the potential punishment. In California, if the vehicle stolen was a police car, the level of vehicle theft increases from a misdemeanor to a serious felony. Texas gets even more nuanced — if the vehicle theft was committed in county designated by the governor as disaster area, the penalties are increased. Furthermore, as is typically the case with most crime, repeat offenses increase the severity of the penalties associated with it.
What Do I Do?
Well, if you’re a driver, it is relatively simple to protect yourself from being a victim of motor vehicle theft. There are a few crucial steps to minimize your potential risks. First, always make sure to lock your car doors. Even if you are just going outside your vehicle for a brief moment, this step is imperative. Next, make sure that all of your windows are rolled up completely. Don’t forget the sun roof if your car has one! In addition to these steps, you want to place all valuables out of sight. This means they can go in the trunk, glove compartment, or stay with you. Lastly, you can always opt to put an alarm sticker on your car window, informing potential thieves that you are secure.
If you have been accused of motor vehicle theft, the following steps are not quite as simple. In some cases, this accusation may be truthful, in others, the situation may be far more complex. Regardless, there is one step ubiquitous to all cases: contacting a criminal defense attorney. They can help develop a legal defense to best represent you and your motor vehicle theft case.