For every action, there is a consequence. And if your action is to steal a car, the consequence can be quite serious. In Rhode Island, motor vehicle theft comes with harsh penalties. Find out about all the different motor vehicle crimes, laws, and penalties in Rhode Island.

How Common is it?

While you might think that your vehicle is safe, that’s far from the truth. In the US, there were¬†707,758 car thefts in 2016. In Rhode Island alone, there were¬†1,389. If you live in the state, you have a one in 53 chance of being a victim of a property crime. Motor vehicle theft is more common than you might think. And whether you’re a victim of theft or the thief, the situation can be difficult.

Many people find themselves on the wrong end of an auto theft charge. If you face charges, it’s important that you understand the consequences. There are various auto theft charges, and each one comes with different penalties. Before you get to court, you should know what those charges are and what they mean for your future.

The Charges

In Rhode Island, there are two main types of motor vehicle theft charges. Either one of them can result in imprisonment, and either one is taken seriously by the court. It’s important to know that facing a car theft charge without legal representation can result with you in jail.

Possession of a Stolen Vehicle

The first type of auto theft charge is possession. Although it is less serious than the other type of charge, it still has some serious penalties. Possession of a stolen motor vehicle is a felony crime. As such, you can face jail time for your actions. The maximum term of imprisonment in Rhode Island is ten years. In addition to that, you can face a fine of up to $10,000. Depending on your situation, a judge may offer less than the maximum penalty. However, it is at the discretion of the court.

The court defines possession of a motor vehicle as any person who possesses a vehicle that he knows to be stolen. If you drive a vehicle that you have no reason to believe is stolen, you may not face charges. However, any evidence that shows that you knew the vehicle was stolen could get you facing charges.

In addition to a possession of a stolen vehicle charge, there is also a possession of stolen parts charge. If you find yourself in the possession of car parts that you know were stolen, you should think twice. You could face serious legal consequences.

Grand Theft Auto

The other more serious motor vehicle theft is grand theft auto. In Rhode Island, this is a serious offense. It involves stealing a vehicle that is worth more than the petty theft value. Any vehicle worth over $500 could get you a grand theft auto charge.

It’s important to note that grand theft auto is the same as grand larceny. In Rhode Island, grand larceny refers to several different crimes. Auto theft is only one of them. If the court finds someone guilty of grand larceny, they may face as many as ten years in jail and a fine of as much as $5,000. As a felony, the charge remains on your record long after you serve your time.

What About Petty Theft?

You might think that stealing a cheap vehicle could be a petty theft. Because it is a misdemeanor, petty theft has minor consequences. However, petty theft is the theft of an item $500 or less. When it comes to vehicles, you might have a hard time finding one under that value. For that reason, auto theft does not often fall under this category. Instead, it’s usually a felony.

If you do steal a vehicle worth less than $500, you only face a misdemeanor charge. The consequences for this crime are one year or less in jail, or a fine of under $500. The court can choose to sentence you to anything less than those maximums. It all depends on the circumstances of your case.

Fighting Motor Vehicle Theft Charges

The theft of a vehicle is an offense that can stay on your record for a lifetime. Once you get a conviction, it stays with you. Any future employer can find out about your criminal history. And your prospective landlords might turn you down for being a felon. Your actions could affect your life forever.

With so much at stake, it’s important that you take action and fight your motor vehicle theft charges. Whether you face charges of possession or grand theft, you should contact a lawyer for help. There are several defenses that she may be able to use to get you a better outcome for your case. In some cases, a judge may even dismiss the case. With an experienced lawyer, you have better odds of getting a good result.