Philadelphia Auto Theft Lawyer
Auto theft, more commonly known as car theft, is a form of property crime. It is defined as the taking, without permission, of a car which does not belong to you. There are different forms of auto theft, and the penalties vary accordingly.
In Pennsylvania, the difference between penalties depends on the manner in which a person steals the car, whether you keep the car, the value of the car, and whether you used violence in the commission of the crime. Depending these factors, you can be charged with anywhere between a misdemeanor of the third degree and a felony of the first degree.
Auto Theft – No Violence Alleged
When a person steals a car, it is treated exactly like any other theft in Pennsylvania. Depending on the value of the car, you can be charged with misdemeanor theft (value of the car under $2,000), or a Felony of the Third Degree (value of the car over $2,000).
The most commonly seen non-felony for auto theft is a misdemeanor of the first degree because most cars are not valued at under $1,000. If you are charged with a misdemeanor of the first degree, you could be looking at a potential of up to 5 years in jail. However, the majority of car thefts are charged as felonies of the third degree, because the cars are valued at over $2,000. In these cases, you are looking at a potential of up to 7 years in jail for stealing the car.
In order to prove theft, the government needs to prove you stole the car with the intention of keeping it. This can be proven directly or indirectly. For example, if they catch a person in a stolen car, it is evidence of the intent to keep the car.
Taking a Car Using Force Is a Robbery
If a person uses force, or even merely the threat or induced perception of force, no matter how slight, to steal a car, that person can be charged with robbery. Robbery is the taking of property using force. If you are charged with robbery, you can face anywhere between a maximum of 7 years to 20 years, depending on the type of robbery you are charged with. If a gun is used, you are looking at even more jail time.
Carjacking Is also a Serious Crime
In Pennsylvania, carjacking is defined as the act of stealing a car while the owner or another authorized person is present. This means that even the act of picking up someone’s keys, running to the car, and taking it constitutes carjacking. This is a serious offense, graded as a Felony of the First Degree, punishable by up to 20 years in jail and up to a $25,000 fine. Many times, carjacking a robbery will be charged together. Carjackings are most commonly done with force, so if you are charged with carjacking, you will also be likely charged with robbery or robbery of a motor vehicle.
How We Defend You Against Auto Theft Charges
At the Law Offices of Greg Prosmushkin, P.C., we take look at your case from a global perspective. Our attorneys, who have decades of experience in handling auto theft charges, will examine everything involved from your case – from the reason you were stopped to whether or not a witness is lying. Our attorneys have recorded not guilty verdicts and significant downgrades for our clients over the years. If you are charged with auto theft, the criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Greg Prosmushkin P.C. will be able to identify the best way to fight your case – and even potentially beat it.
Contact an Attorney Today to Identify Your Options
It is important to remember you can be charged with many of the offenses above for one incident. As such, you must be vigilant about protecting your rights. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can identify if there are any issues you can use to fight the charges or obtain a favorable resolution of the case. If you have been accused of car theft, carjacking, joyriding, or failing to return your rental car, contact the criminal defense attorneys at The Law Offices of Greg Prosmushkin, P.C. today. We can help, and your initial consultation is free.
This content was written on behalf of Greg Prosmushkin.