New York Auto Theft Lawyer

Motor vehicle theft in New York can involve the violation of any number of criminal statutes. As such, the specific elements of these crimes and attached potential penalties vary greatly.

No matter the exact charges a person is facing, a New York auto theft lawyer could be able to help. A distinguished theft lawyer could examine the facts that led to the arrest to formulate a strategy specifically tailored to the needs of the unique case.

Defining New York Car Theft Laws

New York Penal Law provides for two main categories of car theft. The first is less serious and involves the simple taking of a car without the owner’s permission.

A person may be charged with unauthorized use of a vehicle in the third degree under any of the following circumstances:

  • Without the permission of the owner, someone takes, rides in, or otherwise uses a vehicle
  • The vehicle is in another’s custody for a business purpose
  • A person borrows a car but does not return it at the specified time
  • What Actions Can be Considered Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle?

    As a New York auto theft lawyer knows legitimate definition of being in another’s possession for business purposes would be getting repairs. Unauthorized use would be if someone moves the vehicle for some reason other than an authorized business purpose—such as a mechanic using the car to pick up a date.

    To count as a crime, borrowing a vehicle must be a significant violation. Examples include returning a rental car one hour late will likely not be considered substantially a theft, but returning the car several days late could be a different story.

    Unauthorized use of a vehicle in the third degree is only a misdemeanor. It does not carry a required jail term but could result in a heavy fine and remain on a person’s criminal record. Any subsequent offenses will be considered unauthorized use of a vehicle in the second degree—a Class E felony.

    Examples of Severe Auto Theft Offenses

    Far more serious are accusations of car theft, which under New York Penal Law is considered a form of robbery. Any theft of a vehicle owned by another person is a second-degree robbery. Regardless of whether anyone suffers harm in the attempt or if the alleged thief has a weapon, auto theft is considered a class C felony punishable by at least three years in jail and a potential of up to 15 years.

    Potential Defenses Against Auto Theft Charges

    Many allegations of unlawful use of a vehicle result from simple misunderstandings. For instance, if a person normally borrows a car from a friend every Saturday but fails to notice that the friend left a note forbidding the practice one day, they may be able to argue that the supposed criminal act was simply an honest mistake.

    Allegations of auto theft, on the other hand, are much more serious. Defenses to these cases often must focus on the accuracy and validity of witness statements and the legality of the police work involved in the investigation and arrest.

    Criminal car theft allegations carry heavy potential consequences. If you are accused of an auto theft crime, a New York auto theft lawyer may be able to help you navigate your case and pursue a positive outcome.