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DAVID CLARK
Criminal Defense Attorney

Philadelphia Auto Theft Penalties

In large metropolitan areas, like Philadelphia, automobile theft is dealt in a much stricter and harsher manner than other areas. It is the type of crime against society that the court and prosecutors attempt to dissuade individuals from being involved in. It is a massive burden for someone who has had their car stolen. Auto theft can affect their means of support and cause insurance rates and premiums to rise. Therefore, in order to protect citizens in a large area, the courts are very harsh to those who have been arrested for and/or convicted of auto theft.

If you are facing Philadelphia auto theft penalties, contact a dedicated auto theft lawyer today.

Conviction Consequences for Auto Theft

In Pennsylvania, auto theft is graded as a felony of the third degree. This means someone facing Philadelphia auto theft penalties could be looking at as much as three and one-half to seven years incarceration and a fine of $15,000. However, not all cases face the maximum penalty of the law.

Due to the courts extremely harsh treatment of auto theft charges, it may be essential for a defendant to reach out to a seasoned criminal defense attorney right away. The sooner the lawyer is contacted, the sooner they could begin gathering the facts of the case to build a defense.

Building a Defense for Auto Theft

If an individual is able to mitigate, reduce, or challenge the elements of auto theft, in many cases, the felony of the third degree can be reduced to an unauthorized use of a motor vehicle charge. An unauthorized use of a motor vehicle is a misdemeanor of the first or second degree, depending on the facts of a particular case. In fact, in situations where an individual was given permission to drive the vehicle and they believed that the person who gave them permission to drive the vehicle was the actual owner, the right defense can lead to a dismissal of the felony charge.

In some cases, there can be a solid defense when:

  • The individual felt they had permission to have the car
  • The individual merely had the keys to the car
  • There was no damage to the windows or locks
  • The individual fully cooperated with the police

In those cases, an individual may be acquitted of all charges based upon the lack of knowledge or any real understanding that they were not actually authorized to be in the car they were operating and that it was actually stolen. Raising these defenses can help mitigate Philadelphia auto theft penalties or lead to acquittals under the right circumstances.

Prior Convictions Impact on Case

When dealing with crimes that are seen as negative within a particular metropolitan area, such as car theft, if an individual is convicted for the first time, the court will find that very concerning. When someone is charged with auto theft a second time, the penalties will all be the same maximums of three and a half to seven years incarceration and $15,000 fine. Also, the courts will look more towards incarceration instead of probation. This is why it is important to consult with a knowledgeable and dedicated lawyer when someone is facing Philadelphia auto theft penalties.