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Possession of a Stolen Motor Vehicle

Defending Against Possession of a Stolen Motor Vehicle Charges – Illinois Theft Attorneys

In the State of Illinois, if you find yourself facing charges of theft of a motor vehicle or possession of a stolen motor vehicle (PSMV), you run the risk of three (3) to seven (7) years in prison. Possession of a stolen motor vehicle worth more than $10,000.00 will result in serious felony charges. The act of taking a vehicle belonging to another through the use of threats or deception also will result in serious charges and potential prison time. It is imperative to mount a defense as quickly as possible as the circumstances surrounding the investigation and arrest are the critical elements in obtaining a dismissal of the charges or a not-guilty verdict. If you face criminal charges as a result of arrest for auto theft or possession of a stolen motor vehicle, you must act immediately to defeat the charges, which includes retaining the services of an experienced defense attorney who will passionately represent you on your behalf.

Providing Aggressive Defense against Possession of a Stolen Motor Vehicle Charges

Chicago-based auto theft defense attorney David L. Freidberg has more than 20 years experience in the legal arena. During that time, he has defended numerous possession of a stolen motor vehicle cases, so he can craft a defense that offers his client the best opportunity to defeat the charges or minimize the punishment. Mr. Freidberg understands the strategies that prosecutors use during the pre-trial and trial stages and zealously opposes the tactical maneuverings. Although the defense varies with the facts of the case, Mr. Freidberg often will defend against auto theft charges by attacking the investigatory procedure, discrediting the prosecutor’s witnesses, and challenging the evidence. Mr. Freidberg has a team of qualified professionals to conduct an independent investigation and discover any new and exculpatory evidence that may exist.

Overview of Auto Theft Laws in Illinois

In Illinois, possession of a stolen motor vehicle is outlined in 625 ILCS 5/4-103, entitled Offenses relating to motor vehicles and other vehicles – Felonies. A person may be charged with auto theft or possession of a stolen motor vehicle if:

  • A person is receives, possesses, conceals, sells, disposes of, or transfers a vehicle knowing that the vehicle has been converted or stolen;
  • A person knowingly alters or modifies a vehicle’s identification number;
  • A person conceals or misrepresents the identity of a vehicle or any essential part with knowledge of the actions; or
  • A person purchases, receives, possesses, sells, or disposes of a vehicle with knowledge of modification of the identification number of the vehicle or any essential part.

There are other charges that may be brought related to possession or disposition of a motor vehicle or any identifying materials. A person may be charged with possession of a stolen motor vehicle if he or she has physical or actual control over a vehicle that he or she knows to be stolen. Therefore, knowledge is an important element of this crime and a good defense attorney will gather evidence to attack and refute this element of the offense. Under Illinois law, possession of a stolen motor vehicle is a Class 2 Felony and may result in fines and incarceration in the Illinois Department of Corrections for a sentence of three (3) to seven (7) years.

A charge of auto theft involves the act of using or stealing another person’s vehicle without consent of the owner. Charges can be brought against someone who makes threats or uses deception to gain possession or use of another person’s vehicle. If a weapon, violence, or other show of force is used to gain possession of another person’s vehicle, this is charged as vehicular hijacking, which is a separate offence under Illinois law and is a Class X felony.

Penalties for Auto Theft or Possession of a Stolen Motor Vehicle

The penalties for these charges vary depending on the value of the vehicle. As many vehicles on the road have a value in excess of $10,000.00, the charge often is a more serious felony. Some of the more common charges (ranging generally from less severe to most punitive) include:

  • Suspension or revocation of the offender’s drivers license;
  • Community service;
  • Probation;
  • Restitution – specifically repayment of the value of the stolen vehicle to the owner of that vehicle;
  • Fines, up to $25,000.00;
  • Prison sentences from 3-7 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections; and
  • A permanent criminal record.

A criminal record can impact the rest of the offender’s life in ways that he or she may not be able to comprehend at the time of the offense. A criminal record may be used for refusal into certain academic programs, denial of special licenses and certifications, especially as theft is deemed a crime of dishonesty and used to determine the moral character of an individual, loss of employment opportunities, and rejection for certain state benefits, among other negative consequences.

Possible Deferred Prosecution in Illinois Auto Theft Cases

Illinois has a new deferred prosecution process for those individuals arrested for the first time (730 ILCS 5/5-6-3.3) and whose crimes fall within a specific category, including being non-violent and eligible for probation. Auto theft is one of the crimes eligible for this special program. Being offered for the first time in all counties in Illinois in 2013, the Offender Initiative Program is geared towards individuals with no criminal history. This program allows for probation of first-time offenders without a conviction being entered. If no future behavior warrants a review of this probation, then the person being charged may petition for an expungement of his or her record. This essentially is a one-time pass for offenders who are less likely to offend again if given an opportunity to avoid the stigma of a criminal record.

In order to gain the benefit of the deferral program, the prosecutor will suspend the prosecution of the charges for a period of not less than twelve (12) months. During the time in which the case is suspended, the defendant will need to meet specific requirements, including:

  • No further violations of the law;
  • No possession of a firearm or other dangerous weapon;
  • Payment of restitution to the owner of the vehicle;
  • Employment or performance of thirty (30) hours of community service; and
  • Pursuit of a General Equivalency Diploma (GED) or vocational training.
As part of the deferral, the court also may require:
  • Psychiatric counseling or treatment;
  • Prohibition against using any illegal drug;
  • Random drug testing;
  • The payment of fees, fines, and other costs; and
  • If the offender is a minor, residence with his or her parents or in a foster home, along with attendance of school or an approved youth program, and possibly contribution to the finances of the household.

If the defendant fails to adhere to all of the requirements, then the prosecutor will lift the suspension and proceed with pre-trial and trial proceedings. An offender may only qualify for the Offender Initiative Program one time.

David L. Freidberg Providing an Aggressive Defense for those Arrested for Auto Theft

Chicago criminal defense attorney David L. Freidberg has more than 20 years as an attorney and extensive experience representing clients who have been charged with auto theft or possession of a stolen motor vehicle. Our auto theft defense attorneys understand all of the circumstances that may have led to your arrest and they understand the many reasons this may have occurred. We will mount a fervent defense with the intent of getting our clients the best results possible. Although the nature of the defense will vary based on the specifics of the case, often our attorneys will move to suppress evidence that was collected in violation of our clients’ rights. When pursuing a case to conclusion at trial, our experienced attorneys know the best ways to refute the evidence introduced by the prosecutors and discredit the opposing witnesses in order to obtain an acquittal in many cases. We offer a free consultation so that we can evaluate your situation and provide preliminary advice so call us at 312-560-7100 or email us to learn how we can help.