Representing the Accused in Car Theft Crimes

Auto theft crimes are on the rise in Colorado. The Denver metro area had a 120% increase in vehicle thefts during the pandemic. Law enforcement is on high alert, focused on identifying and arresting people alleged to have committed car theft.

If you are accused of “motor vehicle theft,” you can expect severe penalties to be imposed if convicted. A car theft can be filed as a class 3, class 4, or class 5 felony. This is a serious legal issue that requires the assistance of an experienced theft crime defense attorney.

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Aggravated Motor Vehicle Theft, First Degree: The Elements of the Crime

Aggravated motor vehicle theft in the first degree is a Class 5 felony if the value of the vehicle is less than $20,000, a Class 4 felony if the value is between $20,000 and $100,000, and a Class 3 felony if the value is over $100,000, or when the accused person has been convicted of auto theft in Colorado or any state or territory. The elements of what is often called “grand theft auto” must include:

  • The accused retained possession of another party’s vehicle for over 24, hours
  • Attempted to alter the appearance of the vehicle
  • Removed (or attempted to remove) the VIN (vehicle identification number)
  • Used the vehicle while committing another criminal act
  • Caused property damage of $5,000 or more
  • Injured another person while in control of the vehicle
  • Took the vehicle out of Colorado for more than 12 hours
  • Changed the license plates on the vehicle

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Aggravated Motor Vehicle Theft, Second Degree

When it is alleged that a vehicle was stolen, but none of the elements listed above occurred, the offense will be filed as Aggravated Motor Vehicle Theft, second degree, a misdemeanor or felony, based on the value of the vehicle. These charges are often filed against any person accused of “joyriding,” or taking possession of a car, boat, or motorcycle without permission, using it, and then abandoning or returning it.

Charges of Aggravated Motor Vehicle Theft, second degree are filed when the vehicle was knowingly taken without permission from the owner. This is a Class 5 felony if the vehicle is valued at $20,000 or more, a Class 6 felony if the vehicle’s value is under $20,000, and a Class 1 misdemeanor if the vehicle is valued at less than $1,000.

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Penalties for Car Theft in Colorado

The penalties imposed in for Aggravated Motor Vehicle Theft, first degree are as follows:

  • Vehicle valued at $20,000 or less: 1 to 3 years incarceration in state prison with 2 years mandatory parole, along with fines from $1,000 to $100,000.
  • Vehicle valued between $20,000 and $100,000: 2 to 6 years in state prison, 3 years mandatory parole, and fines between $2,000 and $500,000.
  • Vehicle valued over $100,000: 4 to 12 years incarcerated in state prison, 5 years mandatory parole, and fines from $3,000 to $750,000.

The penalties imposed for Aggravated Motor Vehicle theft, second degree are as follows:

  • Vehicle valued less than $1,000 (misdemeanor): 6 to 18 months in jail, and fines from $500 to $5,000.
  • Vehicle valued between $1,000 and $20,000 (felony): 1 to 1.5 years in jail, fines from $1,000 to $100,000.
  • Vehicle valued at $20,000 or higher (felony): 1 to 3 years in state prison, 2 years mandatory parole, and fines as high as $100,000.

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Defense Strategies for Theft Charges: Your Right to Fight Charges

If you are facing charges for misdemeanor or felony car theft, you are in a dangerous legal position. You are innocent until proven guilty but when you are caught in the criminal justice system, it won’t feel that way. Various defenses could help you avoid suffering the extensive penalties imposed on those convicted of car theft. These include:

  • You owned the car, or believed you did.
  • You believed you had permission to use the vehicle.
  • You are falsely accused of the crime.
  • Law enforcement violated your constitutional rights.

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Your Rights as a Defendant

If you are under investigation or have been charged with car theft in Colorado, you have rights – and they must be exercised. You have the right to remain silent, and the right to an attorney. Most people understand that attorneys vary in skill. At Welsh Law, LLC, we have extensive experience in criminal defense law, and are knowledgeable, trustworthy, and professional. The legal team is passionate about protecting the rights of the criminally accused and offers a free 30 minute consultation.

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Contact Us Today.

If you or a family member is accused of car theft, contact Welsh Law, LLC immediately for a free 30-minute consultation. Call our Denver office at (720) 836-1777.

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Additional Information