Theft of a Motor Vehicle

According to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, motor vehicle theft is on the rise in the North Star State. The offense involves taking a motor vehicle without permission. Various other motor theft crimes are also grouped with the charge such as joyriding and stealing motor fuel.

Stealing a vehicle is a serious crime in Minnesota. You will likely face felony charges, which will impact your life in more ways than one. It’s advised you contact legal representation if you have been criminally charged for stealing a vehicle. An attorney can assess the facts of your case and fight on your behalf. 

Criminal Defense Attorney in Apple Valley

Many people do not realize how easy it is to steal a vehicle. In fact, it’s so easy some do not realize they are committing a crime until they see red and blue lights behind them. Motor vehicle theft is a serious crime that requires a serious attorney.

James Blumberg at James Blumberg Law has more than a decade of experience defending clients of criminal offenses. As a former prosecutor, Mr. Blumberg can see a case from the opposing side’s perspective. He will use this to your advantage and develop a defense strategy in your best interest.

Call (952) 431-7758 to schedule a time to speak with James Blumberg Law. We are based in Dakota County, but assist clients in areas such as Anoka County, Carver County and Hennepin County.

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Motor Theft Laws in Minnesota

Theft of a motor vehicle does not have its own statute in the Minnesota law books. Instead, the state’s general theft laws mention auto theft as an act constituting theft. Per the statutes, you are guilty of motor vehicle theft if you take or drive a vehicle knowing you did not receive the consent of the owner or an authorized agent of the owner.

The term “take” in the statute requires the vehicle to be moved from its original location.

Simply sitting in a vehicle while it’s parked in another’s driveway does not constitute auto theft. Stealing motor fuel, however, does constitute motor vehicle theft.

According to the Minnesota Statutes, you are guilty of stealing auto fuel if you intentionally take motor fuel from a gas station without paying for it and with the intention to permanently deprive the retailer. However, you will not be charged if you pay for the fuel within 30 days after receiving notice of non-payment.

The legal definition of a motor vehicle includes more than passenger vehicles. According to the statue, a motor vehicle is any self-propelled device intended to move people or property from one place to another. This can include boats, aircraft, jet skis and motorcycles, to name a few.

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Joyriding vs. Stealing a Car

Many people confuse joyriding and motor vehicle theft. A classic example of joyriding involves teens taking a car out for the evening and then returning it a few hours later. Like motor vehicle theft, joyriding does not have its own defined offense in the Minnesota Statutes. Rather, both offenses are lumped together under theft.

The main difference between joyriding and motor vehicle theft is joyriding does not involve the intention to permanently deprive the owner of their property. However, motor theft laws in the North Star State do not require a defendant to intend to permanently deprive the owner of their vehicle. Just knowing you did not have permission to drive the vehicle is enough to be charged with theft.

Navigating Minnesota’s theft laws can be complicated to do on your own. Contacting a criminal defense attorney is your best course of action if you have been charged with a theft-related crime. They can evaluate the facts of your case and fight to have the charges reduced or dropped.

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Penalties for Motor Vehicle Theft

Penalties for theft in Minnesota are based on the value of the property stolen. Since cars have such high value compared to other objects commonly stolen, motor vehicle theft is charged as a felony.  A felony conviction will have a serious impact on your life. Not only will you have to spend time behind bars, but you could lose your job, access to federal aid and your right to bear arms.

Motor vehicle theft is punishable by the following in Minnesota:

  • Up to five years in jail
  • A fine of up to $10,000

Charges and penalties for the offense will be increased if you created a risk of bodily harm to anyone involved. Instead of up to five years in jail, the court will extend your sentence by 50%. This means you could spend up to seven and a half years in jail for stealing a vehicle.

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Additional Resources

Theft | Minnesota Statutes – Being aware of Minnesota’s laws is beneficial. It will make you a better-informed citizen and inform you of what you may be up against. By following the link, you can read the section of the Minnesota Statues over theft. You can read the legal definition of the offense and find out how it can be charged. The statute can be read on the official Minnesota Legislature website.

Minnesota Uniform Crime Report – Follow the link provided to view the most current set of crime data for Minnesota. Chapter 4.3 covers motor vehicle theft. You can find out which vehicles are the most susceptible to the offense and how often the crime occurs.

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Criminal Defense Lawyer in Dakota County, MN

It’s common for motor theft charges to stem from miscommunication. James Blumberg Law understands this, which is why Mr. Blumberg will do everything in his power to ensure your side of the story is heard. James Blumberg Law defends clients in Minneapolis and Greater Minneapolis areas such as Apple Valley, Anoka and Chaska.

The sooner you contact legal representation, the better your chances of a more favorable outcome. Call (952) 431-7758 to schedule a time to speak with Mr. Blumberg.

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