Statistics suggest that there are between 700,000 and 800,000 motor vehicles that are stolen each year in the United States. Some people accused of taking stolen vehicles are friends or family members of the car’s owner. If you borrow a person’s car and fail to return it, it is important to understand that the owner will likely report the stolen vehicle to law enforcement, which means that you might end up facing auto theft charges. Federal law makes it against the law for a person to transport a vehicle across the state lines if the driver is aware that the vehicle was stolen. People can also be charged with possessing or selling a vehicle if is determined that the car had crossed state lines after being stolen. These are serious charges under federal law that can result in a person facing steep fines and lengthy imprisonment. As a result, people who are charged with the theft of a motor vehicle often find it essential to contact a skilled criminal defense attorney.
The Elements of a Federal Motor Theft Charge
In accordance with federal law, a person is determined to have committed federal vehicle theft if he or she performed one of several actions including transporting a vehicle in interstate or foreign commerce while knowing that the vehicle was stolen. It often is not important how the person being charged came into possession of the vehicle, but rather just that the vehicle was feloniously taken or converted from the property of another.
The Unique Nature of Federal Motor Theft Charges
A large number of motor theft charges are tried in state court, but there are some circumstances in which vehicle theft is prosecuted in federal court. The types of vehicle theft cases that are tried in federal court most often include organized crime rings that operate in several states or other exceptional circumstances. The definition of exceptional circumstances is not specific but has been found to include when a stolen car is used to commit a separate felony, the stolen vehicle was exported or sold to a foreign country, the car was grossly misused, more than one car has been stolen in a similar pattern, the vehicle is a large commercial truck, or the vehicle is construction or farming equipment. These are just some of the examples of what types of vehicle theft cases are prosecuted in federal court. It is important to remember that some cases will not be prosecuted in federal court including situations in which the person who stole the vehicle is younger than 18.
Discover How a Federal Criminal Defense Attorney can Help
Federal cases are seriously prosecuted and people who are charged with these offenses can end up facing life-changing penalties. As a result, if you are charged with vehicle theft or any other type of federal vehicle-related violation, do not hesitate to contact the Federal Criminal Law Center. Our legal counsel understands what it takes to create a strong defense for your case and from start to finish will remain focused on making sure that your case resolves in a positive manner.