In Arizona, there are different kinds of motor vehicle theft crimes. If you are facing charges, it is important to be familiar with your rights and the next steps to take. Contact Phoenix Criminal Defense Attorney Burges McCowan for a free consultation of your case.
What is Unlawful Use of Transportation?
ARS 13-1803, Unlawful Use of Transportation, also known as ‘Joyriding’, is when someone takes someone else’s means of transportation (generally a car, but could also be a motorcycle, bicycle, etc) without intending to permanently deprive that person of his or her vehicle. You can be charged if you are the driver, but what many do not realize is that you can also be charged as a passenger if you know, or that the car has been obtained by illegal means. These means can be theft or even borrowing without permission.
What are the penalties for Unlawful Use of Transportation?
Even though no one was hurt and you intended to return the car or vehicle to its rightful owner, this is still a very serious crime under Arizona statute. ARS 13-1803 is considered a Class 5 or 6 felony, and subject to the following penalties:
- Fine and restitution
- Jail or prison time of up to 2 ½ years
- Probation of up to 3 years
- Community Service
What is Theft of Means of Transportation?
ARS 13-1814, Theft of Means of Transportation, or Auto Theft, is the more serious version of Unlawful Use of Transportation. Though many people think of this as stealing a car, there are actually several crimes that fall under the Auto Theft umbrella. These include:
- Borrowing and failing to return a vehicle, including a rental vehicle
- Providing false information to obtain a car
- Driving, or possessing a car that you know is stolen
What are the penalties for Theft of Means of Transportation?
Auto Theft is a very serious crime, a class 3 felony, leading to 2 to 8.75 years in prison upon conviction. Other penalties, including fines, restitution, community service, and probation are also likely.
What should you do if you’ve been charged?
First of all, don’t say anything about your case to the arresting officers. You have the right to remain silent, so make sure you exercise that right! Police officers are trained to get you to talk and incriminate yourself, so the first thing you should do is ask to speak to your attorney. You need to find a stellar criminal defense attorney who can make sure your rights are protected at all times. A good defense attorney can make sure you face the lesser of the charges if possible. Also, he or she can look at the circumstances surrounding your arrest and the crime, and help set up the best defense possible. Time is of the essence.