Have you been charged with car theft in central KY? Protect yourself by talking to the experienced Lexington, KY, theft defense attorneys of the Carman Law Firm. We will examine the details of your case and use every available legal resource to build the strongest possible defense. Every situation has unique facts and circumstances affecting the outcome – not all motor vehicle theft charges have to end in convictions. We provide each client with the same aggressive and thorough representation, all aimed to take advantage of opportunities for reduced bond, case dismissal, reduced charges, reduced sentences, and alternatives to imprisonment. Our founding attorney, Dan Carman, is admitted to practice in Kentucky state courts, the federal courts in both the Eastern and Western Districts of Kentucky, and in the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. A native of Lexington, Kentucky, and a graduate of the University of Kentucky College of Law, he is proud to offer his services to help his community.
What is auto theft in Kentucky?
Chapter 514 of the Kentucky Revised Statutes states that a person commits the crime of theft when he unlawfully takes or exercises control over someone else’s movable property with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of the property. Motor vehicle theft is a specific type of theft that falls under this general criminal law prohibiting people from taking things that don’t belong to them, and it applies to cars, trucks, motorcycles, buses, RVs, and more. A person who steals any of these vehicles can be charged under this law, as can a person who buys or drives a stolen vehicle that he or she knows was stolen.
A car doesn’t have to be hotwired to be considered stolen. An unattended vehicle with the keys left inside can still be stolen. If the car was broken into and then stolen, or taken from a garage that was broken into, the defendant may also be charged with burglary.
What is joyriding?
The legal term for the crime of joyriding is unauthorized use of a motor vehicle. Related to car theft, it’s committed when a person operates or uses a vehicle without the permission of the car’s owner or operator. The main difference rests on intent. If the person who took the car either intended only to temporarily deprive the owner or did not intend to permanently deprive the owner, then the offensive conduct reaches the level of joyriding instead of car theft.
What are the penalties?
While theft in general may be classified as a misdemeanor, car theft is almost always charged as a felony because punishments are commonly based on the value of the property that was stolen. The more valuable the property at issue, the more serious the charge is likely to be. Since vehicles tend to have a high value, cases of vehicle theft are treated as “grand theft auto.”
At that point, it becomes a Class D felony. Unauthorized use of an automobile is also a Class A misdemeanor unless the defendant has previously been convicted of this offense or of having stolen an automobile, in which case it’s a Class D felony.
The penalty that can be imposed for a Class A misdemeanor is up to 365 days in jail and a maximum fine of $500. For a Class D felony, a defendant can be sentenced to between one and five years in prison. If the value of the car exceeds $10,000, but is less than $1 million, then the theft becomes a Class C felony punishable by five to ten years in prison. In addition to jail time, people who are convicted of felonies are sometimes sentenced to pay corresponding fines, but more commonly are held responsible for any restitution owed in the case.
What are the defenses?
The most common defenses to grand theft auto are intent and consent. A person who takes a car with the intention only of borrowing it has committed the less serious offense of joyriding. If you always intended to return it, then you lacked the specific intent required for the crime of car theft. Having the owner’s consent to take the car is also a possible defense. You may be able to argue that you believed you had a continuing right to take the vehicle because the owner gave you permission to use it in the past. Creative defense arguments can also involve elements of mistake, double jeopardy and procedural issues.
We can help
Whether this is the first time you have been arrested or you have prior criminal convictions on your record, securing good legal representation early in the process is crucial to your case. Come to the Kentucky defense attorneys at the Carman Law Firm to discuss the charges, review the circumstances of your arrest, and make a plan for defending your rights.
Managing partner Dan Carman is a zealous, compassionate Kentucky car theft defense attorney who will work diligently with you and tirelessly for you. He has wide-ranging experience from when he served in the United States Marine Corps as defense counsel, prosecutor, legal assistance attorney, and in-house counsel for an infantry battalion. This background gives him a valuable understanding about both sides of the legal process, which can be very beneficial to his clients. He knows how the Kentucky Criminal Justice system operates and will personally handle your case every step of the way. He even offers a free initial consultation to help you get started. Call his office at (859) 685-1055 or complete this convenient online form.