Auto Theft in Arizona: What are the Consequences

Vehicular theft is obviously a serious criminal offense in every state. Auto theft in Arizona is taken seriously because the state ranks among the 10 in the US where the biggest number of vehicles get stolen on an annual basis. Theft of means of transportation is defined in Arizona Revised Statutes 13-1814 and 13-1813. Here’s everything you need to know about the scope of the crime and the eventual repercussions.

Arizona Means of Transportation Theft Laws

Means of transportation is any motor vehicle – from a motorcycle to a bus. The crime of theft is committed whenever a person is found guilty of any of the following:

  • Take control of a vehicle and deprive the owner of control over the vehicle permanently
  • Convert the vehicle of another person for unauthorized use whenever said owner has entrusted the vehicle for a short period of time
  • Take control of a vehicle after it has been delivered to the respective person by a mistake
  • Take control of a vehicle, regardless of the fact that the person has reasons to believe said vehicle is stolen

Penalties for Auto Theft in Arizona

auto theft in arizonaTheft of means of transportation is a Class 3 felony in Arizona. The sentence for a Class 3 felony ranges from two to seven years in prison. A first-time offender could face probation with no jail time or about one year in jail. In the case of aggravating circumstances, the prison sentence could reach up to 8.75 years.

A person that commits auto theft for the second time could get a prison sentence in the range from 3.5 to 16.25 years. Third-time offenders will face 7.5 to 25 years in prison.

These harsh measures seem to be delivering the desired results. According to the Arizona Automobile Theft Authority, there have been 1,238 stolen vehicles recovered in Arizona in 2016. The estimated value of these means of transportation is 13.133 million dollars.

The number of felony arrests during the year reached 252. Of these detained individuals, 11 were juveniles.

Other Means of Transportation-Related Crimes

Apart from auto theft, there are several other crimes that people can commit. These include unlawful use of vehicles and unlawful failure to return a rented vehicle.

Unlawful use of means of transportation in Arizona is defined as knowingly taking control of a motor vehicle without authorization or being in a vehicle when the driver doesn’t have the legal right to operate. In the second instance, being a passenger could lead to criminal charges.

The unlawful use of means of transportation is a Class 5 felony for people who take control of the vehicle and a Class 6 felony for passengers. People who are charged with a Class 5 felony could receive a prison sentence in the range from six months to two years. Class 6 felonies come with sanctions ranging from six to 18 months in prison.

Whenever people rent a motor vehicle and fail returning it within the specified time-frame, they will face Class 5 felony charges.

Regardless of the charges, it’s crucial to pick the right defense strategy. There are several ways in which experienced attorneys can contest the claims of the prosecution.

A few of the most effective defense scenarios include consent received from the owner of the vehicle, lack of knowledge pertaining the ownership of the vehicle or the legal ramifications, mistake of fact or a procedural error committed over the course of the investigation. An attorney could also try to establish the fact that a defendant hasn’t returned a vehicle on time due to the poor condition of the said means of transportation (that isn’t the result of the defendant’s actions).