Maryland Joyriding Lawyer
At its most basic, joyriding consists of the unauthorized use of a motor vehicle. In Maryland, it is actually referred to as an unauthorized removal of property. Under the statute, it is defined as seeking and carrying away, either from someone’s home or out of their custody, their motor vehicle, their vessel or their livestock, and doing it without their permission.
If you are facing charges, a Maryland joyriding lawyer can work to mitigate the damages and work to reduce the charges in your defense. A skilled defense attorney is your best asset moving forward.
Relevance of Intent
The maximum penalties for joyriding in Maryland are not less than six months and or greater than four years. Under Maryland Law, the distinction between a theft and an unauthorized use is what the person’s intent was.
If the defendant intended to permanently deprive the owner of the property, then that would be a theft. On the other hand, if it is an unauthorized use of someone’s property, their motor vehicle, and they do not have the intent to permanently deprive, it is only a misdemeanor. It is not a felony in the State of Maryland to take the vehicle of another without their permission.
The typical scenario of a joyriding charge is somebody who takes another person’s vehicle but intends to return it. Sometimes they leave it somewhere to be found. However, it is not their intention to permanently deprive the owner of the car, and therefore the crime does not apply.
Because they want to temporarily use it, this distinguishes it from a defendant who intends to permanently deprive the owner of ever the having the vehicle back; therefore, it is a clear case of unauthorized use rather than actual theft. A Maryland joyriding lawyer will be well equipped to make the distinction and present the case before the court.
Burden of Proof
The charge will only be considered a theft offense if the person intended to permanently deprive the owner of the car. In a different factual scenario, if a car is abandoned, it depends on the circumstances of it being abandoned as to whether or not the State can prove that there was intent to permanently deprive or not.
For example, if it is abandoned in a place where it is highly unlikely that it would ever be found or so far away from the victim’s home that there is little chance of it being found, under certain circumstances it is possible that it could actually be proven that it was a theft and not an unauthorized use.
The State would have to prove that a car was taken from the owner or from their premises without the owner’s permission.
Failure to Return a Leased Vehicle
If someone fails to return a leased vehicle, it is a separate crime than joyriding. The two do not necessarily have anything to do with each other because failing to return a rental vehicle is a totally separate criminal offense with its own very specific statute. The typical joyriding scenario is not the same factual scenario that has to do with failing to return a rental vehicle.
In order for somebody to be convicted of failing to return their rental vehicle, which they can be charged for, a written demand for the return of the vehicle has to be sent to the person who rented it. If they do not respond or they still refuse to return it, they can be charged. This is a misdemeanor and the maximum penalty for that is a year incarceration or a fine of no more than $500.00.
How an Attorney Can Help
It is important to hire an experienced attorney that understands all the different aspects of theft and unauthorized use, because the crimes are different and the penalties are different. When a person hires an attorney, the attorney is going act as a guide and advisor as to how to best resolve the situation with as little negative consequence as possible to the client. Therefore, an attorney with years of experience in this area of the law will be the strongest partner in this effort.
The role of any attorney is to make sure that the State has brought charges that they can actually prosecute against the client; does the State have all the evidence they need. If the State does not, then it is the job of the attorney to point that out at the proper time. Sometimes this means pleading not guilty and have the State figure out where their problem is and if they are able to fix it.
If the defense attorney knows the Prosecutor well enough, it could mean communicating with the prosecutor that the State has a problem and maybe get the case dropped. The whole point of representing someone through the criminal justice process is to make sure they have an advocate looking out for them; somebody who is going to make the best arguments for them; give them the best advice about whether or not to go to trial; and if not, negotiate the very best agreement possible.
It is also important to speak with a knowledgeable Maryland joyriding lawyer because they will have a very strong working relationship with the Prosecutor’s Office and may be able to suggest a resolution of the case that does not require the defendant to be convicted of anything beyond some sort of probation.
Each case is unique and each outcome depends on the individual circumstances. Working with a Maryland joyriding lawyer will increase the chances of reaching a desirable outcome.