Auto Theft Charges in Phoenix, AZ

phoenix auto theft attorney

If you are facing an auto theft charge in Arizona, it is imperative that you contact a Phoenix criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. These charges should not be taken lightly, as they could result in high fines, jail time, prison time, and lengthy probation periods. The team at Ybarra Maldonado Law Group has extensive experience defending accused individuals against motor vehicle theft charges. If you have been charged with auto theft, don’t hesitate to contact a Phoenix auto theft attorney with our firm. To schedule a consultation with us, please call our office at 602-910-4040 today.

What Is Auto Theft?

Motor vehicle theft involves either stealing or attempting to steal another person’s vehicle. While many theft crimes are considered petty offenses because of the low monetary value of the stolen items, the same cannot be said for car theft. Car theft is a very serious offense because vehicles tend to be worth much more than, for example, a stolen television or other electronics. For this reason, theft of a motor vehicle usually carries steep penalties in Arizona.

Arizona Auto Theft Laws

ars 13-1814

Two main laws come up when discussing auto theft in Arizona: ARS 13-1814 and ARS 13-1803. These two laws outline the main ways in which people commit auto theft. We outline the differences between the two in the following sections.

ARS 13-1814: Theft of Means of Transportation

According to ARS 13-1814, a person commits auto theft if, without legal authority, they do any of the following.

  • Takes someone else’s vehicle with the intent to permanently deprive” that person of their means of transportation.
  • Uses another person’s vehicle for an unauthorized term or purpose after being entrusted with the vehicle by the owner for a specific authorized term or purpose.
  • Obtains someone else’s vehicle through material misrepresentation with the intent to permanently deprive that person of their vehicle.
  • Obtains control of another person’s vehicle after it is lost or wrongfully delivered and uses that vehicle without making reasonable efforts to locate or notify the owner.
  • Uses another person’s vehicle when they knew or reasonably should have known that the vehicle was stolen when it was in the defendant’s possession.

What Are the Penalties for Auto Theft in Arizona?

If someone is convicted of auto theft in Arizona, they could face very serious consequences. Depending on the nature of the case and their past criminal history, they could face probation or a lengthy prison sentence. Along with a jail sentence, they may face a very high maximum fine. Because of the severity of the consequences, it is crucial to contact an attorney if you have been accused of motor vehicle theft in Phoenix.

ARS 13-1803: Unauthorized Use of Means of Transportation

The unauthorized use of means of transportation is a related, separate crime from auto theft. According to ARS 13-1803, someone commits unauthorized use of means of transportation if they do any of the following without the intent to permanently deprive the true owner of the vehicle.

  • Knowingly takes control of another person’s vehicle without lawful authority or authorization to do so.
  • Knowingly being transported or located in another person’s means of transportation when the defendant knows or should have known that another person unlawfully possesses the vehicle.

What Are the Penalties for Unauthorized Use of Means of Transportation?

The potential penalties for this crime range from probation with zero days in jail to up to one year in jail. A defendant could also face six months to two and a half years in prison. The length of the prison sentence may be increased if the defendant has prior convictions.

What Are Some Defenses to Auto Theft Crimes in Arizona?

If you are accused of stealing a vehicle, being in possession of a stolen vehicle, or using a vehicle without permission from the owner of the vehicle, you could face steep penalties. For this reason, it is crucial to contact a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.

The team at Ybarra Maldonado Law Group has extensive experience crafting strong defenses on behalf of our clients. In auto theft cases, there are several potential defenses, including no proof of intent, police misconduct, and claims of right of use of the property.

The prosecution must prove that you possessed the vehicle with the intent to steal it. A jury is unlikely to reach a guilty verdict if the prosecution cannot prove your intent to permanently deprive the owner of the vehicle.

If you had permission to use the vehicle or believed in good faith that you had permission, this is a strong defense against auto theft charges. It is a valid defense if you believed the vehicle was yours or if you believed you had a rightful claim to use it.

Lastly, police misconduct can result in a not guilty verdict. If a police officer deprives you of the rights afforded to you in the Constitution and its amendments, this is a valid defense. Examples of police misconduct include illegal searches and seizures, violations of your right to counsel, failing to read your Miranda rights, and illegally forcing a confession from you.

Is Stealing a Car a Felony in Arizona?

Yes, auto theft is a felony crime in the state of Arizona. Violations of ARS 13-1814 can result in class 3 felony charges, punishable by up to almost nine years in prison. Violations of ARS 13-1803 can also lead to a felony conviction. They can be classified as either class 5 or class 6 felony charges.

Why Choose Ybarra Maldonado Law Group for Your Auto Theft Charge?

auto theft charge

Choosing a defense attorney is an important decision in any criminal case, particularly those in which the stakes are so high. You should work with an attorney who has experience handling cases like yours and a good track record of results. When you work with the team at Ybarra Maldonado Law Group, you receive the following benefits.

  • Compassionate and aggressive representation: We are fully aware of the stakes our clients are facing in their criminal cases. Their freedoms, livelihoods, relationships, and civil liberties are at stake. That’s why our attorneys provide compassionate support and aggressive representation throughout the litigation process.
  • Remarkable resources and legal skills: With more than a decade of experience in Arizona criminal law, we have the skills you need to achieve the best possible outcome in your case.
  • Support from a well-loved Phoenix law firm: We have achieved incredible results for countless clients in our community, and our reputation reflects that. Our team fosters positive, lasting relationships with the communities we serve, as we are proud to help them protect their legal rights.

Contact a Phoenix Auto Theft Lawyer at Ybarra Maldonado Law Group

If you have been charged with auto theft or unauthorized use of means of transportation, you need a skilled, experienced criminal defense attorney in Phoenix. The potential penalties for these crimes are steep and can negatively affect your reputation. However, an attorney can help you achieve the best possible outcome in your particular case. Contact the team at Ybarra Maldonado Law Group to schedule a consultation. Call our office at 602-910-4040 today.

es_MXEspañol de México