Whether in the Phoenix area, or anywhere in Arizona, per ARS §13-1814 “Theft of Means of Transportation” or “Auto-Theft” primarily occurs in 5 situations:
- When a person controls somebody else’s vehicle with the intent to “permanently” deprive the person of that vehicle; this is your typical car theft situation.
- Auto-theft can also occur when a person borrows somebody else’s car for a certain amount of time, but then fails to return it within the agreed upon time period.
- Auto-theft can also occur when somebody gives a material misrepresentation in order to get permission to use somebody’s vehicle.
- It can occur when somebody else’s vehicle is lost or mis-delivered to a person and that person does not use reasonable efforts to notify the true owner.
- Lastly, it occurs when somebody knows or has reason to know that the car they are driving is a stolen vehicle.
If you need an Auto Theft Lawyer in Phoenix or Arizona contact DM Cantor. We are available 24/7 for a Free Consultation either by phone (602-307-0808) or by clicking here to fill our our contact form.
Possible Punishment for Theft of Means of Transportation
Theft of Means of Transportation is a class three (3) felony and carries varying levels of punishment. A first offense class three (3) felony carries a range of punishment of probation with zero (0) days in jail up to one (1) year in jail, or prison of two (2) years to eight and three quarters (8.75) years of incarceration. If the person has one (1) allegeable historical prior conviction, then the range of “prison only” punishment goes from three and one half (3.5) to sixteen and one quarter (16.25) years of incarceration. If the person has two (2) allegeable historical prior convictions, then the range of “prison only” punishment is from seven and one half (7.5) to twenty-five (25) years.
Possible Defenses for Theft of Means of Transportation
The most often seen defense to Theft of Means of Transportation / Auto Theft is that the true owner in some way had consented to the other’s use of the car. The typical situation occurs in close relationships (roommates, boyfriend / girlfriend, fraternity houses, etc.) where a person grants permission to somebody else to borrow their car, or has granted the permission in the past, and then the true owner rescinds that permission without the knowledge of the defendant. For example, roommates who usually allowed each other to borrow cars may now be in an argument and on the “outs” with each other, and one party calls the police and claims that the car has now been “stolen” by the other roommate.
It is important to interview all parties involved and all witnesses to the habits and conversations of the parties to show that there was actually permission to drive the vehicle. Another defense that is often seen is “Mistake of Fact”. This occurs when one person is either sold an automobile, or given an automobile to drive, and they believe the person who has loaned them the car was the actual owner of the vehicle. However, in reality that seller/loaner had stolen the car, and this was completely unknown to the defendant.
In a worst case scenario, we would attempt to show that the defendant did not intend to “permanently deprive” the other person of their vehicle, that they had always intended to return the vehicle, and therefore is only potentially guilty of the lesser included offense of “Unlawful Use of Means of Transportation / Joyriding”. This is a much lower felony range and carries a much lower potential punishment.
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Additionally, because our law firm fights conviction from all angles, we would assert a wide range of defenses and constitutional violations that apply in all criminal cases. The possibilities are numerous and diverse. One of those we frequently assert is a “Miranda rights violation.” In Arizona, the standard of whether any inculpatory statement (i.e., a statement which tends to admit guilt) is admissible in to evidence is based upon a “voluntariness” standard. If we can demonstrate that the police coerced you (i.e., intimidated or tricked you) into making a confession or incriminating statement, or that they did not properly read you your Miranda Rights, then we can suppress those statements and any evidence gathered as a direct result of those statements.
In addition, the “denial of right to Counsel” is another common defense which is often raised. This occurs when a suspect is in custody and requests to speak to their attorney, but is denied and questioning continues. Other defenses may include challenging the validity of any search warrant, or whether there were any “forensic flaws” during the investigation of your case. Depending on what else you have been charged with, this could include exposing flawed procedures regarding blood, breath, and urine testing; fingerprints analysis; DNA testing; ballistics; gunshot residue testing; computer analysis/cloning hard drive procedures; forensic financial accounting reviews; etc.. Lastly, one of the most commonly used defense tactics is exposing sloppy or misleading police reports which include everything from misstatements, false statements, flawed photo line-ups and inaccurate crime scene reconstruction.
It is important to hire a skilled Theft of Means of transportation/ Auto-theft lawyer to defend you, who has knowledge of all the possible defenses to assert in your case.
We are an AV® rated law firm (the highest possible rating by Martindale Hubbell®). Also David Michael Cantor is a Grand Theft Auto lawyer in Arizona, and a Certified Criminal Law Specialist, per the Arizona Board of Legal Specialization. In addition, the Firm and all of its lawyers are listed in the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers®. At DM Cantor, the majority of our Attorneys are ex-Prosecutors, and all of our Grand Theft Auto Lawyers in Arizona know the system well. For a free initial consultation, call us at 602-307-0808, or click here to contact us now and we will assist you with your Theft of Means of Transportation/Auto Theft case.