Many people in the surrounding counties were in for a surprise last month when 70 cars were stolen in a 48-hour period.
King, Pierce, and Snohomish Counties Affected
According to the head of the Puget Sound Auto Theft Task Force, thieves stole 44 cars in King County, 16 cars in Pierce County, and 10 cars in Snohomish County. These numbers are pretty in line with the 250-300 cars that are stolen every month in Pierce County and the almost 800 cars that disappear in King County. Stolen cars are most often used to commit other crimes, such as burglary, or they are simply used to get from one place to another and then abandoned. Some residents have reported having had their car stolen, only to find it a few days later, miles away and severely damaged. Older cars, specifically Honda Civics and Acuras, are most often the targets of thieves.
Washington Car Theft Laws
Washington lawmakers wrote a distinct statute to deal with car theft specifically, rather than just including it under the broader statute of general theft law. The car theft law is divided into two degrees. Car theft in the first degree occurs when someone takes a car without permission and changes its appearance or removes parts to sell. A second-degree offense is simply taking a car without permission or riding in a stolen vehicle knowing it was stolen.
Both are Class B felonies and carry a punishment of up to 10 years in jail and fines up to $20,000. As far as civil penalties go, Washington law allows car theft victims to sue their thief for damages up to $5,000.
Possible Car Theft Defenses
There are two main lines of defense in car theft: facts were mistaken, or whether permission was given for someone to take a car. In the latter instance, consider this example: John and Julia have been dating for some time, but it's a volatile relationship. Julia has always told John he could borrow her car to run errands whenever he liked, and so he does. Their relationship finally ends bitterly--Julia reports her car being stolen and John is charged with car theft. John's attorney would probably raise the defense that while they were dating, Julia had given John permission to use her car.
If you or someone you know is facing car theft charges, call the Law Offices of Steve Karimi today at 206-621-8777 today. Steve Karimi is a former prosecutor who now uses his talents in defending those accused of a crime. He has extensive, in-depth knowledge of the law. You can also fill out an online case evaluation form for a complete consultation about your case.