Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle
Joyriding is the practice of driving a stolen car fast or recklessly without the intent to keep the motor vehicle. When a person partakes in joyriding, it is one of the many scenarios in which an alleged offender can be charged with unauthorized use of an automobile.
While unauthorized use charges are not as serious as auto theft offenses, they can still carry severe penalties that may include lengthy terms of incarceration and huge fines. Innocent people can also be accused of this crime as the result of misunderstandings with vehicle owners or police.
Lawyer for Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle Arrests in West Chester, PA
If you were recently arrested for alleged unauthorized use of an automobile in southeastern Pennsylvania, it will be in your best interest to immediately seek legal representation. Ciccarelli Law Offices aggressively defends clients accused of all kinds of theft crimes all over Lancaster County, Montgomery County, Philadelphia County, Chester County, and Delaware County.
Our West Chester criminal defense attorneys work as a team to help achieve the most favorable outcomes to these cases, including possibly having criminal charges reduced or dismissed. You can have our lawyers provide a complete evaluation of your case as soon as you call (610) 719-3200 to schedule a free initial consultation.
Chester County Unauthorized Use of an Automobile Information Center
- When can a person be charged with unauthorized use of a motor vehicle?
- Are there any defenses against these charges?
- Where can I learn more about unauthorized use of an automobile in Pennsylvania?
Pennsylvania Consolidated Statute § 3928 defines the offense of unauthorized use of automobiles and other vehicles as a person operating an automobile, airplane, motorcycle, motorboat, or other motor-propelled vehicle of another party without the consent of the owner. What differentiates a charge of unlawful use from the felony offense of auto theft is whether the alleged offender had the intent to permanently deprive the owner of the vehicle.
Prosecutors may settle for unauthorized use of a motor vehicle charge when there is not sufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that an alleged offender intended to keep the automobile in question. Merely proving that a vehicle was used without an owner’s consent is a much easier burden for prosecutors to satisfy.
Unauthorized use of automobiles and other vehicles is classified as a second-degree misdemeanor. A conviction is punishable by up to two years in jail and a fine of up to $5,000.
The easiest possible defense to these types of charges is simply proving that the vehicle’s owner would have consented to the alleged offender’s using the automobile. State law establishes that it is an affirmative defense for an alleged offender to have reasonably believed that the owner would have consented to the operation had he or she known of it.
Pennsylvania State Police — A majority of unauthorized use of automobile arrests in Pennsylvania are made by members of the State Police. You can learn more about law enforcement services, Pennsylvania crime statistics, and safety brochures on this website. The State Police have 16 different troops covering specific areas of the state, and Troop J serves Chester County and Lancaster County with two stations in the former and one in the latter.
Pennsylvania State Police
997 Lieds Road
Coatesville, PA 19320
Commonwealth v. Pemberth, 489 A.2d 235 — In November 1984, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania was asked to review this appeal of a conviction for unauthorized use of a motor vehicle. The offender in this case had been charged with theft by unlawful taking or disposition and receiving stolen property. While the Superior Court noted that it was “well-settled that upon indictment for a particular crime, a defendant may be convicted of a lesser offense included within that crime,” it concluded that neither of the statutes for the two other offenses involved the conduct proscribed by unauthorized use of a motor vehicle. As a result, the Superior Court reversed the conviction, writing:
In the instant case, appellant was not explicitly charged with unauthorized operation. Rather, the charge was given to the jury, at Commonwealth’s request, after appellant had testified. Nor was appellant impliedly put on notice. Unauthorized operation is a separate offense, distinct from the crimes of theft by taking or receiving stolen goods. Commonwealth had the power to charge appellant with the offense of unauthorized operation. It chose not to do so. We are left with no alternative but to discharge the appellant.
Ciccarelli Law Offices | West Chester Unauthorized Use of an Automobile Lawyer
Were you arrested in southeastern Pennsylvania for alleged unauthorized use of a motor vehicle? Do not say anything to authorities until you have contacted Ciccarelli Law Offices.
Our West Chester criminal defense attorneys have offices in Plymouth Square, Radnor, West Chester, Springfield, Kennett Square, King of Prussia, Lancaster, Malvern, and Philadelphia. Call (610) 719-3200 or submit an online contact form today to have our lawyers review your case during a free, confidential consultation.