Under Washington law, you are guilty of a crime if you possess a stolen vehicle. The offense is a serious felony (as opposed to a misdemeanor) that is punishable by up to a decade in state prison. Please contact a criminal defense lawyer now if you are facing criminal charges.

What is the Crime of Possession of a Stolen Vehicle?

RCW 9A.56.068 is the Washington statute on the crime of possessing a stolen vehicle. The law states that:

“A person is guilty of possession of a stolen vehicle if he or she possesses a stolen motor vehicle.”

“Possession” means that you are operating a stolen car, but it also means that you have control over a stolen vehicle. If, for example, you keep a stolen vehicle in a storage unit, you are in possession of it since you can exercise control over it.

Note that the theft of a motor vehicle is a separate and distinct crime than possessing a stolen vehicle. The pertinent law is set forth in RCW 9A.56.065. That law states that you commit a crime if you steal a motor vehicle.

What are the Penalties?

Possessing a stolen vehicle is a class B felony under Washington law. The crime is punishable by:

  • A maximum 10 years in state prison, and/or
  • A maximum fine of $20,000.

Can a Defendant Raise a Legal Defense?

Yes. People charged with the unlawful possession of a stolen car can challenge it with a legal defense. A common defense is for defendants to show that they did not technically “possess” a stolen vehicle. An accused can also challenge a charge by showing that he/she did not know that a certain vehicle was stolen.

Defendants can also try to assert that the police did not have probable cause to arrest them. If no probable cause, then a judge could dismiss a charge in its entirety.

Contact Black & Askerov for Help

While a defendant can raise a legal defense to challenge a charge of possessing a stolen vehicle, it will take a skilled criminal defense attorney to raise the best defense. The experienced attorneys at Black & Askerov have over 30 years of combined experience defending clients on unlawful possession charges. Our Seattle criminal defense lawyers have the skill and commitment that makes all the difference in these cases. Our attorneys will fight tooth and nail for you at every step of your case. Contact us now to get the legal help you deserve!