Earlier this week, a man was arrested in Helena on suspicion of the theft of a motor vehicle. Police were called regarding a man loitering in a parking lot in Helena with added complaints that he was involved in a verbal altercation with another man. Upon further investigation, law enforcement discovered that the vehicle on the scene had been reported stolen. The man loitering admitted that he had been driving the vehicle and the key to the vehicle was still in his possession. The man was placed under arrest and is being charged with felony theft.
Theft of a Motor Vehicle in Washington
To define the "theft of a motor vehicle," it is essential to first define theft. In Washington, "theft" means:
- "To wrongfully obtain or exert unauthorized control over the property or services of another or the value thereof, with intent to deprive him or her of such property or services; or
- By color or aid of deception to obtain control over the property or services of another or the value thereof, with intent to deprive him or her of such property or services; or
- To appropriate lost or misdelivered property or services of another, or the value thereof, with intent to deprive him or her of such property or services."
Where the theft law states, "property or services" we can add in "motor vehicle." To better understand, Washington code states that "a person is guilty of theft of a motor vehicle if he or she commits theft of a motor vehicle." Therefore, a person in Washington is guilty of the theft of a motor vehicle if they do any of the following.
- Wrongfully obtain or exert unauthorized control over the motor vehicle of another,
- Deceive another in order to gain control over their motor vehicle, or
- Appropriate the lost or misdelivered motor vehicle of another.
To successfully convict someone of theft, a prosecutor must prove that the accused intended to deprive the owner of their motor vehicle. If they are unsuccessful in proving intent to deprive, the prosecutor may then instead try for the lesser charge of taking a motor vehicle without permission. The theft of a motor vehicle is a class B felony and such a charge can carry up up ten years in prison, or a $20,000 fine, or both.
The Law Offices of Steve Karimi Can Help
When faced with a serious criminal charge, such as felony auto theft, it is imperative that you retain the services of an experienced and skilled attorney. At the Law Offices of Steve Karimi, we pride ourselves on our dedication to protecting the rights of those accused. Defense attorney Steve Karimi is a former King County prosecutor who uses experience and skilled legal insight to fight for clients whether they have been charged with a misdemeanor or a felony. If you or someone you love has been accused of the theft of a motor vehicle, Steve Karimi can help. Contact the Law Offices of Steve Karimi today.