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Auto Theft Laws in Arizona

Blischak Law gives an overview of auto theft laws in Arizona.

Those of us who have had our vehicles stolen likely recall the feeling of anxiety in their gut when they realized that their car or truck is missing. Auto theft is taken very seriously in Arizona, as it is one of the top 10 states for stolen vehicles. 

Under Arizona law, the crime of auto theft is called theft of means of transportation and involves an individual taking a person’s means of transportation without their permission. However, you can also be found guilty of auto theft if you use a vehicle in an unauthorized manner – even though it is legally in your possession. 

Required Showing of Proof

Theft of means of transportation requires a showing of proof that the defendant unlawfully and knowingly:

  • Controlled another person’s means of transportation with the intent to permanently deprive the person of possession
  • Used a vehicle that was legally placed in the defendant’s possession for limited use, and used in an unauthorized time and/or manner
  • Misrepresented facts with the intent to permanently deprive the other person of possession
  • Used another individual’s means of transportation that was lost or mis-delivered and you should have made reasonable effort to inquire as to the true owner
  • Used another person’s means of transportation when you knew/should have known that it was stolen

Penalties and Sentences

First Offense

If you have been convicted of auto theft for the first time, it is considered a Class 3 felony with the possibility of probation or prison. However, if there are aggravated circumstances, the sentence increases to 2 to 8.75 years in prison. 

Second Offense

If you have been convicted of auto theft for the second time, it is considered a Class 3 felony with a sentencing of 3.5 to 16.25 years in prison.

Third Offense

If you have been convicted of auto theft for the third time, it is a Class 3 felony with a sentence ranging from 7.5 to 25 years in prison. 

Unlawful Failure to Return a Motor Vehicle Subject to a Security Interest

You can also be convicted of another type of auto theft in Arizona. It is theft by not returning a vehicle in default. If you fail to return a car that you are leasing or making payments on within 90 days after you’ve defaulted on payments and received proper demand notices, it is called Unlawful Failure to Return a Motor Vehicle Subject to a Security Interest. 

What Can You Do?

If you or someone you know has been accused of Theft of Means of Transportation, some defenses can prevent you from being convicted. These include consent, lack of knowledge, improper reporting to police, and mistake of fact. Consulting with a knowledgeable and experienced Arizona Criminal Defense Attorney can make all the difference. 

At Blischak Law, we help those in Arizona who have been accused of a crime such as Theft of Means of Transportation. We understand what is at stake and always have your best interest in mind. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, call us at 602-737-3213 today! 

Posted in: Theft Crimes