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Vehicle Theft – Arizona Criminal Defense Attorney

Wednesday / November 11, 2015

You hear about it a lot and maybe it’s even happened to you – vehicle theft in Arizona. As a criminal defense attorney I get a lot of questions about stolen vehicles both from those accused and those who have had their vehicle stolen or used in a manner that was against their consent.

A recent news article about a van being stolen from a former Arizona State University football player, who is now a quadriplegic, brought up a question about auto theft laws in Arizona. Can the circumstances around vehicle theft determine the classification of the charge?

Theft of a motor vehicle (or theft of means of transportation) is a class 3 felony in Arizona. Those convicted of a class 3 felony can be sentenced anywhere from two to seven years in prison. That is a big range and to answer the above question, yes, the circumstances surrounding the case can help a judge or jury determine the length of time, but not the classification. The vehicle’s value, purpose, and  the way the vehicle was obtained, can all be used when determining sentencing.

Keep in mind; in these cases the prosecution must prove that this was a theft with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of the vehicle. Joyriding, for instance, is classified completely different.

Arizona has high vehicle theft rates and therefore, is tough on those accused with vehicle theft. Contact me if you have any questions about vehicle law in Arizona. As a former prosecutor and now a criminal defense attorney, I’ve been on both sides of the law, and very familiar with all sorts of vehicle crimes and cases.

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