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Maryland Criminal Defense: Defending Auto Theft Charges in Charles County, Maryland

Stealing a motor vehicle is a crime in Maryland. If you are arrested for auto theft, likely, the Maryland prosecuting attorneys will charge you under two main criminal statutes: one applicable to theft in general (Md. Crim. Code, § 7-104) and the statute specific to auto theft (Md. Crim. Code, § 7-105).

Under the auto theft statute, conviction of the theft of any motor vehicle carries a five-year prison term and also a fine of $5,000. Under the general theft criminal statute, the various potential jail terms (and fines) depend on the value of the motor vehicle stolen. The punishments are:

  • Theft of a vehicle valued at less than $100 — misdemeanor charge; the accused faces a jail term of up to 90 days, a fine of up to $500, and “shall restore the property taken to the owner or pay the owner the value of the property or services” stolen (this is known as “restitution”)
  • Value from $100 to $1,000 — also a misdemeanor charge; jail term of up to 18 months, a fine of $500, and restitution
  • Value from $1,000 to $10,000 — this is a felony charge; jail term of up to 10 years, a fine of $10,000, and restitution
  • Value from $10,000 to $100,000 — also a felony; potential jail term of 15 years, a fine of $15,000, and restitution
  • Value of the theft exceeds $100,000 — felony; potential jail term of 25 years, a fine of $25,000, and restitution

As noted, if you steal a motor vehicle in Maryland, you will be charged under both statutes (at the minimum).

To obtain a conviction, the Maryland prosecuting attorneys must prove the following legal elements of the crime:

  • The taking of a motor vehicle belonging to another
  • Without the permission of the owner OR by means of deceit, fraud, or some other artifice
  • With intent AND
  • The intent to deprive the owner of their automobile permanently

From these legal elements, several potential criminal defenses can be seen. For example, consent or permission from the owner could be a possible defense. Consent or permission could, under some circumstances, be implied if the owner of the motor vehicle knew that the accused was taking the vehicle and did not object. Another possible fact pattern that could lead to a defense is if the owner had previously loaned the motor vehicle to the accused.

Other potential defenses include:

  • Innocence — the accused did not actually take the motor vehicle
  • Alibi — the accused was somewhere else when the motor vehicle was taken
  • Misidentification — someone else took the vehicle
  • No intent to steal — the taking was accidental in some manner
  • Necessity — there was no intent to permanently deprive the owner of possession, and there was some compelling emergency need

Another set of potential criminal defenses could be based on evidentiary issues or procedural mistakes made by Maryland law enforcement officials.

Contact Waldorf, Maryland Criminal Defense Lawyer Robert Castro Today

This article has been provided by the Law Office of Robert Castro. For more information or questions, contact our office to speak to an experienced Maryland criminal defense lawyer at (301) 705-5137. We are Waldorf, MD, Criminal Defense lawyers. Our address is 2670 Crain Highway, Waldorf, MD, 20601.