You are guilty of a crime in Washington if you intentionally take a vehicle without the permission of the owner. The offense is often referred to as “joyriding.” The crime is a serious felony (as opposed to a misdemeanor) that can lead to a jail term of up to five years. If you or a loved one is facing criminal charges involving the taking of a vehicle, contact a skilled criminal defense lawyer now for help.

What is the Taking of a Motor Vehicle in the 2nd DegreeUnder Washington Law?

RCW 9A.56.075 is the Washington statute that sets forth the crime of taking a motor vehicle in the 2nd degree. Per this law, you commit a criminal offense if you do any of the following:

  • intentionally take or drive away any motor vehicle that is the property of another without the property’s owner’s consent, or
  • voluntarily ride in a motor vehicle with knowledge of the fact that the vehicle was unlawfully taken.

Note that this offense is a separate and distinct crime than the theft of a motor vehicle. Theft of a motor vehicle requires an intent to actually steal a vehicle rather than simply drive or ride in a car without permission.

What are the Penalties?

Taking a motor vehicle without permission in the 2nd degree is a class C felony under Washington law. The crime is punishable by:

  • A maximum five years in jail, and/or
  • A maximum fine of $5,000.

Can a Defendant Raise a Legal Defense?

Yes. People charged with this offense can challenge it with a legal defense. A common defense is for defendants to show that they had a vehicle owner’s permission to drive or ride in the car. An accused can also challenge a charge by showing that he/she did not act with any type of criminal intent. For example, maybe a defendant took someone else’s vehicle in order to respond to an emergency.

Defendants can also try to assert that the police did not have probable cause to arrest them. If there was 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 taking a vehicle without permission, 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 motor vehicle related crimes. 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!