Grand Junction Vehicle Theft Defense Attorneys
The theft of another’s property is considered a serious crime, especially the theft of vehicles. Vehicles often represent part of an individual’s livelihood and ability to work. The State of Colorado lists vehicle theft as a felony and imposes heavy penalties in a conviction.
If you’ve been accused of stealing a vehicle in Colorado, you face life-altering consequences in terms of jail time, fines, the ability to legally own a firearm, vote, or retain professional licenses. Avoiding conviction requires a carefully crafted defense from a Grand Junction defense attorney, presented in a compelling and persuasive manner.
Colorado law defines a motor vehicle as “all vehicles of whatever description propelled by any power other than muscular, except vehicles running on rails.” The definition includes cars, trucks, boats, and aircraft, as covered in Colorado Criminal Code 18-4-409. The definition places no limit on value, or whether the vehicle is for work or recreational purposes.
Motor vehicle theft is defined as the unlawful obtaining or exercising control over someone else’s vehicle. A charge of vehicle theft may be filed after a ten-minute joyride or to later resell the vehicle as a whole or in parts, move it to another state, or any other action that removes the vehicle from the owner’s control. Many other states call vehicle theft “grand theft auto,” but under Colorado law, the crime is “aggravated motor vehicle theft.” Colorado Criminal Code 18-4-409 provides the legal definition and penalties for two levels of aggravated motor vehicle theft:
First Degree Aggravated Motor Vehicle Theft
Per Colorado law, vehicle theft is filed as a first-degree felony if any of the following elements were involved:
- You keep the vehicle for more than 24 hours
- Any alteration or attempt to alter the vehicle
- Any attempt or alteration of the vehicle identification number
- Use of the vehicle to commit another offense
- $500 or more property damage to the vehicle or other property
- Bodily injury to another person while in control of the vehicle
- Removal of the vehicle from the state for more than twelve hours
- License plates attached to the vehicle other than those legally issued for that vehicle
A felony, the severity of the penalties imposed in a conviction will vary, based on the value of the stolen vehicle:
- Less than $20,000 is punishable by up to three years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.
- More than $20,000 but less than $100,000 is punishable by up to six years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000.
- More than $100,000, or if the defendant has two prior convictions of crimes involving a vehicle in the US, is punishable by up to twelve years in prison and a fine of up to $750,000.
Second Degree Aggravated Motor Vehicle Theft
Any vehicle theft that does not meet the legal criteria to be filed as a first-degree felony will be filed as a second-degree felony. Aggravated motor vehicle theft may be charged as either a felony or misdemeanor, based on the value of the vehicle:
- Less than $1,000 is a misdemeanor and is punishable by up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $5,000
- $1,000 - $20,000 is a felony and is punishable by up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $100,000
- $20,000 or more is also a felony and is punishable by up to three years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.
Theft of Motor Vehicle Parts
Stealing motor vehicle parts is a separate crime in Colorado and can be charged as either a felony or misdemeanor depending on the value of the stolen parts. Motor vehicle parts theft can be charged alone or in addition to aggravated motor vehicle theft.
There are several valid legal defenses against charges of vehicle theft depending on the circumstances of your case. Some of the common defenses to reduce the charges or get you acquitted include:
- You legally owned the vehicle
- Someone else committed the crime
- You had (or thought you had) permission to drive the vehicle
- You didn’t alter or damage the vehicle
- The damage was minimal, less than $500
- Police misconduct
At Peters & Nolan, LLC, our criminal defense attorneys will develop a comprehensive defense strategy and aggressively pursue a case dismissal, reduced charges, reduced penalty, or an acquittal.
A conviction on a charge of aggravated motor vehicle theft has life-altering consequences, and you need the best by your side to aggressively pursue your full acquittal. At Peters & Nolan, LLC, we are dedicated to protecting the constitutional rights of our clients, and as top trial lawyers, we have the knowledge and experience to present a professionally prepared defense, or engage in negotiations with the prosecutor to reduce the damage to your life and future. Contact us today at (970) 243-4357 to schedule a free case analysis.
Peters & Nolan, LLC is your ideal source for high quality legal representation throughout the state of Colorado. Known for being personable and responsive, attorneys Andrew J. Peters and Andrew Nolan are aggressive trial lawyers with an excellent record of trying and settling cases in criminal defense, DUI/DWAI and personal injury.