In Utah, you can receive considerable prison time and high criminal fines for an auto theft offense. Depending on the circumstances of the offense, you may even be charged with additional crimes associated with auto theft. If you or a family member was charged with auto theft, you should speak with an experienced Salt Lake City auto theft lawyer today.
Overson Law is here to guide you through Utah’s complex criminal procedures. Darwin Overson has nearly two decades of experience in handling various types of criminal cases, including auto theft cases. To schedule your free consultation, call us at (801) 758-2287 or contact us online.
Utah Car Theft Laws
Title 76 of Utah’s Criminal Code §76-6-412 lists the requirements for being charged with auto theft. Utah classifies auto theft as the theft of an “operable motor vehicle.” Utah defines a motor vehicle as a vehicle that is “self-propelled” or any vehicle “propelled by electric power obtained from overhead trolley wires.” Therefore, auto theft is a broad term that can include cars, trucks, motorcycles, mopeds, and more.
The State of Utah takes auto theft very seriously, an offense for auto theft is automatically a second-degree felony. The type or value of the vehicle stolen has no effect on the offense as long as the vehicle functions. Additionally, if you are in possession of a stolen vehicle, you may also be charged with another second-degree felony. Sellers of stolen vehicles can also be charged with a second degree felony if they had reason to believe the vehicle was stolen.
Joyriding or “unauthorized control over a motor vehicle” is another offense that can be linked to auto theft. Joyriding occurs when an individual takes another person’s vehicle with the intent to “temporarily deprive” them of the vehicle. Utah does not define what the term “temporarily deprive” means, but if you return the vehicle within 24 hours, you may avoid being charged with a felony. However, if the police discover the vehicle before you decide to return it, you could face felony charges.
Penalties for Breaking Utah’s Vehicle Theft Laws
As mentioned above, vehicle theft is automatically charged as a second degree felony. In Utah, a second degree felony carries a penalty of up to 15 years in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000. As possessing and selling a stolen vehicle are also second degree felonies, they carry the same penalty as auto theft.
There can be multiple penalties for the crime of joyriding. For example, if you returned the vehicle within 24 hours, you may receive a class A misdemeanor. Class A misdemeanors are punishable by up to one year in jail and a maximum fine of $2,500. If you kept the vehicle longer than 24 hours or the police discovered and returned the vehicle, you might be charged with a third degree felony. Third degree felonies are significantly more serious than class A misdemeanors. A third degree felony is punishable by up to five years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines.
If you commit a joyriding offense but fail to return the vehicle, your joyriding offense may be upgraded to auto theft.
If you are charged with a class A misdemeanor or higher, you cannot complete compensatory service to reduce the penalty for your offense. Compensatory service is unpaid work used to avoid paying criminal restitution. However, it only applies to class B or C misdemeanors.
If you are charged with one of the above offenses, there are mitigating factors that may drop the penalty you receive. For example, being highly cooperative with law enforcement may help your case. If you are a first-time offender, and the court believes you can be rehabilitated, your penalties may be lower.
There are also aggravating factors that can increase the penalties associated with your auto theft case. For example, if you stole the vehicle from a victim that you wielded power over (e.g., an employee or elderly parent), this could be an aggravating factor. Additionally, if you commit another crime in conjunction with auto theft, you may be charged with more than one crime and face the penalties for each offense.
Our Salt Lake City Auto Theft Attorneys Will Represent You
If you or a family member is facing an auto theft charge, you should speak with an experienced Salt Lake City criminal defense attorney. Darwin Overson knows how fearsome the criminal justice can appear and is here to alleviate your concerns. Darwin will apprise you of your rights as a defendant and ensure you are ready to approach your criminal case.
Overson & Bugden has represented clients in Salt Lake City and across Utah and is prepared to represent you. To schedule a free consultation for your auto theft case, call us at (801) 758-2287 or reach us online.