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Hinman Law Blog

Motor Vehicle Theft Crimes

Motor Vehicle Larceny In order to be convicted of Motor Vehicle Theft, the prosecutor must prove that you took a motor vehicle that was owned or possessed by someone else, and that you did so with the intent to deprive that person of the vehicle permanently. The state is not required to prove who owned the vehicle, as long as it proves that you did not. The value of the vehicle is not relevant. This crime carries a penalty of up to 15 years in prison, or 2.5 years in jail, and/or a $15,000 fine. If convicted, you will also be required to pay restitution to the vehicle’s owner or insurer for any damages caused.

Receiving a Stolen Motor Vehicle

Knowingly taking control of a vehicle that is stolen is a crime in Massachusetts. The prosecutor must show that you bought, received, possessed, concealed, or obtained control of a stolen motor vehicle, while knowing that the motor vehicle was stolen. Defense of this crime usually hinges on the knowledge element – the prosecutor must prove that you knew the vehicle was stolen, which can be difficult. For example, case law in Massachusetts states that mere presence in a stolen motor vehicle is not enough to be convicted of this crime. Because it’s impossible for anyone to truly know what was in your mind, the prosecutor must rely on circumstantial evidence to show that you knew the vehicle was stolen. The law does not impose an affirmative duty to investigate if a vehicle was stolen or not. Being careless about where a vehicle came from is not enough to prove that you knew a vehicle was stolen. The possible penalties for Receiving a Stolen Motor Vehicle are listed below.

  • Up to 15 years in state prison, or up to 2.5 years in jail if prosecuted in district court
  • A fine of up to $15,000
  • Case cannot be Continued without a Finding
  • For a second or subsequent offense, you must serve at least 1 year in jail without the possibility of parole or early release

Use of a Motor Vehicle Without Authority

You can be charged under this law if you operate a motor vehicle while knowing that you did not have the owner’s permission to do so. For example, operating a rental car when your name is not on the rental agreement can result in this charge. This is a lesser-included offense of Motor Vehicle Larceny. The only difference is that to be convicted of Motor Vehicle Larceny, the prosecutor must prove that you intended to permanently deprive the owner of the motor vehicle. You can be convicted of Use Without Authority even if you intended to return the vehicle to its rightful owner. The penalties are listed below.

First Offense:

  • Fine between $50 to $500
  • Minimum 30 days in jail, maximum 3 years in jail

Second Offense

  • Up to 5 years in prison or 2.5 years in jail
  • Fine of up to $1000

Third/Subsequent Offense

  • Minimum 6 months in jail, maximum 2.5 years in jail
  • If indicted, minimum 2.5 years in prison, maximum 5 years
  • Fine between $200 and $1000

If you have been charged with any Motor Vehicle Theft crime in Newton, Wellesley, Brookline, Boston, Natick, Framingham, Waltham, Billerica, Norwood, Dedham, Needham, or anywhere in Suffolk, Middlesex, or Norfolk County, contact Attorney Hinman for a free case evaluation at 617-283-4480, or using the form to the left.

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