The Seattle Times reported an incident of a stolen garbage truck in late October. An 18-year-old male, unnamed, was attempting to intimidate the driver of the truck. When the driver went to inform the police, leaving the vehicle unattended, the young man hopped in and stole the truck. There was a chase, but due to the already slow nature of the garbage truck, coupled with the handbrake left on by the intended driver, it was limited to lower speeds. Fortunately there were no reported injuries, however, poor handling of the vehicle resulted in numerous accounts of property damage. Among the things destroyed or damaged were several cars, and a number of bicycles linked by a kiosk. On top of all the mayhem, during the chase, the diesel tank of the truck was punctured causing a brief fire and a spill that necessitated an immediate clean up.
In the end, he was apprehended and taken in to jail pending investigation for the crimes of malicious mischief and auto theft.
Malicious mischief is a crime commonly seen in domestic violence instances, however, it is still a severely punishable without the prior connotation. In this case in particular, the young man in question is likely to be charged with malicious mischief in the first or second degree. The statute for first degree malicious mischief (RCW 9A.48.070) requires that:
- a person performed the act "knowingly and maliciously"
- he or she caused "physical damage to the property of another exceeding five thousand dollars" ($750 for second degree)
- he or she caused "an interruption or impairment of service rendered to the public" that involved physical damage to, or tampering with an emergency/public utility or vehicle
The statue also makes reference to causing impairment to aircraft as well, though that is not relevant in this instance. Depending on exactly how much damage this young man caused, he may be found guilty of either first or second degree malicious mischief.
While it is likely the young man may have stolen the truck under the expectation he would be met with the less severe joyriding charge (or auto theft in the second degree), there is a slight chance he may be facing the more severe charges of auto theft (auto theft in the first degree). In our own statute page for auto theft, it shows one particular requirement of "exerting unauthorized control over a motor vehicle" that constitutes a first degree crime if the prosecutor can prove that his intent was to "deprive" the owner of the vehicle, though it would be a bit difficult to consider what an 18 year old would want with a stolen garbage truck other than to show it off.
It is not uncommon for young people close to this age to engage in risky behavior. What may have started as a simple prank or desire for general mischief, however, can have unintended and dire consequences. This young man has just entered legal adulthood and is facing very grave felony charges. Without proper defense representation, it is easy for someone so young to be met with severe punishments for a poor decision. If you are facing auto theft, joyriding, and/or malicious mischief charges don't hesitate to contact the Law Office of Steve Karimi today at 206-621-8777.