You commit the Washington crime of theft of a motor vehicle if you steal a car or some other type of vehicle. People accused of this offense will face a felony charge (as opposed to a misdemeanor charge) punishable by up to 10 years in prison. If you or a loved one has been charged with a Washington theft crime, it is critical to contact a skilled criminal defense attorney now for help.

What is Theft of a Motor Vehicle?

RCW 9A.56.065 is the Washington statute that sets forth the crime of theft of a motor vehicle. According to this law, you commit a crime if you steal a motor vehicle. Note that you are guilty of theft of a motor vehicle no matter the value of the vehicle taken.

The statute cited above lists some interesting facts regarding auto theft. Some of these include that in Washington:

  • More than one car is stolen every 11 minutes,
  • 138 cars are stolen every day, and
  • Instances of auto theft have increased over 55% since 1994, while instances of other property crimes like burglary have decreased or remained steady.

What are the Penalties?

Theft of a motor vehicle is a class B felony under Washington law. The crime is punishable by:

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

Can a Defendant Raise a Legal Defense?

Yes. People charged with this offense can challenge the charge with a legal defense. A common defense is for defendants to show that they borrowed a vehicle and did not steal it. Defendants can also contest a charge by asserting that they were falsely accused of the crime. People often unjustly blame people of this offense out of:

  • Jealousy,
  • Revenge, and
  • An attempt to cover up their own criminal acts.

Defendants can also challenge a charge by showing that the police did not have probable cause to stop them. If there was no probable cause, then a judge could dismiss a theft charge in its entirety.

Contact Black & Askerov for Help

While a defendant can raise a legal defense to challenge a theft charge, it will take a skilled criminal defense attorney to raise the best defense. The experienced theft attorneys at Black & Askerov have over 30 years of combined experience defending clients on theft related 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!