Motor Vehicle Theft
If you have been accused of motor vehicle theft, you have the right to fight the charges. An experienced attorney can help. At Pearson & Paris, P.C., we have more than 50 years of combined legal experience that we will use in your defense. Perhaps more importantly, our top criminal defense attorney is a former senior prosecutor who knows how district attorneys handle these cases. That knowledge allows us to create effective strategies ranging from negotiation to courtroom battles.
Whether in the Denver area or anywhere in Colorado, motor vehicle theft occurs in a variety of different circumstances. Generally, it occurs when a person knowingly obtains or exercises control over the motor vehicle of another person without authorization or by threat or deception and:
• Retains possession of the motor vehicle for more than 24 hours
• Attempts to or actually does alter or disguise the appearance of the motor vehicle
• Attempts to or actually does alter or remove the vehicle identification number (VIN) of the motor vehicle
• Uses the motor vehicle in the commission of a nontraffic-related crime
• Causes $500 or more in property damage in the course of obtaining control over the motor vehicle
• Causes bodily injury to another person in the course of obtaining control over the motor vehicle
• Removes the motor vehicle from the state for more than 24 or
• Attaches plates to the vehicle that were not officially issued for that vehicle
Possible Consequences For Motor Vehicle Theft
The possible consequences for motor vehicle theft depend on the value of the motor vehicle in question. For a motor vehicle with a value of $20,000 or more, the offense is a class 3 felony, and the sentence could be: (1) probation, with a possible jail sentence as a condition of probation of up to 90 days, or up to a two-year work release sentence as a condition of probation, or (2) a sentence to the Department of Corrections of four to 12 years, but as much as 24 years if the court finds the presence of exceptional circumstances, with a mandatory parole period of five years.
For a motor vehicle with a value of less than $20,000, the offense is a class 4 felony, and the sentence could be: (1) probation, with a possible jail sentence as a condition of probation of up to 90 days, or up to a two-year work release sentence as a condition of probation, or (2) a sentence to the Department of Corrections of two to six years, but as much as 12 years if the court finds the presence of exceptional circumstances, with a mandatory parole period of three years.
Possible Defenses For Motor Vehicle Theft
Regardless of the particular theory of motor vehicle theft, the general approach to defending against the charge remains the same. First, it is important to analyze whether the person exercised control over the vehicle with the consent of the owner. Many times, people will obtain control of a motor vehicle with the consent of the owner, who then unbeknownst to the driver revokes that consent. Second, the defense may center on other circumstances particular to the specific allegations of how the motor vehicle theft was committed.
The remaining defenses that may be applied in a motor vehicle theft case apply with equal force to those that may apply in any other criminal case. This includes an analysis of any violation of constitutional rights, such as the right to remain silent, the right to counsel, the right to have any searches and seizures based on probable cause, a proper warrant, and the right to due process in the proper preservation of evidence that may be used against you. Many other defenses are available that rely on scrutinizing and exposing weaknesses in the prosecutor’s case, such as biased or incompetent witnesses, flawed crime scene investigation, flawed administration and procedures in collecting breath, blood or urine for forensic testing, incompetent computer evidence, flawed photo lineups and inaccurate crime scene/accident reconstructions.
It is important that you hire a skilled and experienced lawyer to defend you in a motor vehicle theft case in Wheat Ridge or Jefferson County or across Colorado.