Maryland Auto Theft Lawyer
Maryland law defines automobile theft as a defendant knowingly and willfully taking a motor vehicle from the owner’s lawful custody or control without their consent. It is very similar to other types of theft because it is the taking and carrying away of the property of the other person without their permission.
If you have been accused of motor vehicle theft, a distinguished theft lawyer can help you build an appropriate defense. A Maryland auto theft lawyer can help you find evidence and witnesses that can benefit the outcome of your case.
Maryland Auto Theft Laws
As defined by Maryland law, motor vehicle theft is a completely separate provision from the rest of the theft statute in the criminal law article. The distinction is that the theft in this particular subtitle is of a motor vehicle. The law allows the owner of the motor vehicle to provide an affidavit that could be introduced as substantive evidence. Typically, a witness must take the stand and testify. A person cannot typically submit testimony by affidavit or written statement instead of coming to court and taking a stand.
Specifically for motor vehicle theft, the law does allow for the ownepr of the vehicle to provide an affidavit that proves that they are the owner of the vehicle. That segment of the statute also allows the defendant to demand that the owner actually appear as a witness.
The defendant does have the option if the affidavit is filed within five days before trial to require that the state produces the actual owner and have that person take the stand. In this case, it may be vital to contact a Maryland auto theft attorney to begin collecting evidence.
Auto Theft Felonies
Under Section 7-105, if a person is charged with motor vehicle theft, it will always be defined as a felony. If the state were to choose instead to proceed by charging the person under the general theft provision, then whether or not it is a felony would depend on the value of the vehicle. Under Section 7-104, if the item is worth less than $100, the conviction would be a misdemeanor. However, if the person is convicted of taking something with a value of over $1,000, the crime changes to a felony.
Penalties for Auto Theft
Any time a person is charged with a theft, it can be incredibly damaging to their quality of life. Maryland auto theft attorneys have seen cases where an individual may not be considered for potential employment, education, or anything involving a background check in the future.
Auto theft is considered a felony that carries a maximum penalty not exceeding five years. It is also important to note that a person could be prosecuted either for Section 7-105, motor vehicle theft, or Section 7-104, general theft. Depending on the value of the vehicle, it is possible that the penalty could be greater if the person is charged under the general theft provision.
It is possible the person could end up with a conviction on their record, which can be very damaging. They could potentially serve some period of incarceration. A conviction could also mean a person would have to serve some period of probation, have to report to a probation agent, and pay all of the related fees.
If they are convicted specifically of Section 7-105 motor vehicle theft, then the maximum sentence that the person could receive is five years in prison and/or a fine of no greater than $5,000.00. They also can be ordered, as a part of their sentence, to restore the car to the owner of the motor vehicle, or if they cannot, to pay the owner the full value of the motor vehicle. There could be a significant amount of money the person would have to pay.
Under Maryland law, a sentencing enhancement can apply when a person has prior convictions for theft. For example, for the theft of an item worth less than $1,000, the maximum penalty is 18 months.
If the person has two or more prior convictions, the maximum penalty can increase to a period not exceeding five years. In order for the state to pursue that enhanced penalty, the state’s attorney would have to give notice to the defendant or their attorney at least 15 days before trial.
The defendant would be notified before the trial date that the state was going to pursue an enhanced penalty. That information is very important to know because it might cause the defendant to want to consider negotiating a plea offer where the state agrees not to pursue the enhanced penalty.
Hiring a Theft Attorney
It is important to hire a Maryland auto theft lawyer to review everything and counter the case of the prosecution. It is also very important to remember that facing charges does not mean that the individual actually committed the crime or will be convicted.
Established probable cause is the only requirement for charging someone with a crime. This is considered the lowest standard of evidence in the Maryland system.
To convict someone, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed a crime. This is all the more reason why it is important to hire a criminal lawyer who can offer the benefit of their representation and their advice on how the defense’s case should be presented.