Given the greater monetary value of a typical vehicle, auto theft is considered a very serious crime in Illinois. However, the act of starting up someone else’s car and driving away is only one scenario that is related to the theft of motor vehicles under Illinois law. Since the theft of a motor vehicle must be proven to be an intentional act, it is essential that you work with an attorney who is experienced in motor vehicle theft cases and can build a strong defense for you.
Penalties and Stealing or Possessing a Stolen Vehicle
The act of stealing or possessing a stolen motor vehicle valued at more than $10,000 is classified as a Class B felony. Penalties can include three to seven years in prison, fines of up to $25,000, and restitution for the value of the vehicle. In less serious cases or for first-time offenders, community service or probation are possible. You also run the risk of having the offense on your permanent criminal record, which can impact your employment, your housing opportunities, your ability to be admitted to academic programs, and other negative consequences.
However, even if you did not physically steal the vehicle, you could also be facing felony charges if you:
- Buy, sell, possess, receive, conceal from the owner, dispose of, or transfer a vehicle that you know has been stolen
- Knowingly altered or modified the vehicle’s identification number (VIN)
- Knowingly conceal or misrepresent the identity of a vehicle or any essential part of it
- Buy, receive, possess, sell, or dispose of a vehicle or an essential part of a vehicle that you know has a modified VIN
If the vehicle was stolen by threatening the driver or through deception, you can be charged with a Class 1 felony, with longer potential jail time of between four and 15 years, along with potential fines of up to $25,000 plus vehicle restitution. If you use a weapon, violence, or other show of force to steal a vehicle, you are facing more serious Class X felony charges. This is known as vehicular hijacking, commonly known as carjacking.
Contact an Elgin Auto Theft Defense Attorney
If you have been accused of stealing or possessing a stolen car, you need to contact the Kane County criminal defense attorney at the The Law Office of Brian J. Mirandola immediately. Charges related to auto theft are serious and I can help develop a strong defense to fight for you and get the charges reduced or dismissed completely. Call 847-488-0889 today to set up your free initial consultation.