New York Motor Vehicle Theft

Under New York Law, it is motor vehicle theft to take, drive or otherwise possess someone else’s vehicle without their permission. The following are some examples of New York motor vehicle theft charges:

  • Stealing someone else’s car from a parking lot;
  • Failing to return a rental car to Hertz, or another rental agency, at the end of a rental agreement;
  • Being a mechanic or a car repair shop, driving the car that was given to you for repairs for a weekend in Boston, without the owner’s permission;
  • Knowingly driving a stolen car, even if you weren’t the one who stole it.

New York Motor Vehicle Theft can be prosecuted under several criminal laws:

New York Motor Vehicle Theft: Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle

There are three different Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle Charges under New York Law. They range from First Degree (most serious) to Third Degree (least serious). The difference in these charges is explained below.

Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle in the Third Degree

Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle in the Third Degree, New York Penal Law 165.05, can be charged in these three situations:

  1. Taking or driving someone else’s vehicle without the permission of the owner;
  2. Being a car mechanic, and given the car for the purposes of repairs, using the car without the owner’s permission in a way that constitutes a gross deviation” from the agreement with the owner;
  3. Failing to return a rental car to the owner that constitutes a “gross deviation” from the agreement.

What Is a “Gross Deviation From the Agreement”?

The legal definition of “gross deviation from the agreement” comes from New York Penal Law Section 165.05. The following is an example of gross deviation from the agreement:

  1. Having custody of a vehicle pursuant to a written agreement for a period of 15 days or less and retaining possession of the car for at least 7 days beyond the end of the agreement, and continues possession for a more than two days after receiving written notice to return the car.

Can Both the Driver and Passenger Be Charged with Motor Vehicle Theft Under the Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle Charges?

Yes, both the driver and the passenger can be charged with New York Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle. So long as it can be established that both had knowledge that they were in the car without the possession of the owner. Knowledge can be established by the circumstances of the case – i.e. breaking into a car and rummaging to see if there are any valuables would establish that the actor knew that he was doing so without the permission of the car’s owner. Knowledge can also be established by the actor’s own statement, for example getting pulled over and telling the police officers “This isn’t my car, my friend borrowed it from their friend, who doesn’t know I have it.”

Sentencing and Penalties for Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle in the Third Degree

New York Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle in the Third Degree is a Class “A” Misdemeanor. This charge is punishable by up to one year in prison, by a fine of up to $1,000, or a combination of such fine and imprisonment. However, as this charge is a Class “A” Misdemeanor, sentences of time served, probation, conditional discharge or an unconditional discharge are all possible sentences. You may be required to do some community service as part of your plea to Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle in the Third Degree charges.

Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle in the Second Degree

Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle in the Second Degree under New York Penal Law 165.06 requires the commission of Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle in the Third Degree as well as a prior conviction for either:

  1. Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle in the Second Degree
  2. Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle in the Third Degree

Within the preceding ten years.

Sentencing and Penalties for Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle in the Second Degree

Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle in the Second Degree is a Class “E” Non-violent Felony. As such, this charge is punishable by up to 1 1/3 to 4 years in prison. Determinate sentences of 1 year or less are potential sentences for this New York charge. Additionally, sentences of conditional discharge, unconditional discharge, or probation are also authorized for this New York Motor Vehicle Theft charge.

Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle In the First Degree

The most serious of Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle Charges is Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle in the First Degree. Under New York Penal Law 165.08, New York Motor Vehicle Theft charge has the following elements:

  1. Knowing that s/he does not have the consent of the owner,
  2. He takes, operates, exercises control over, rides in or otherwise uses the vehicle
  3. With the intent to use same in the commission of a Class A, Class B, Class C, or a Class D felony or in the immediate flight therefrom.

Knowledge Presumption

For this particular New York Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle in the First Degree Charge, a person who engages in this conduct is presumed to know that he does not have the consent of the owner. This presumption does not apply to the other New York Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle charges.

Penalties and Sentencing for Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle In the First Degree

Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle in the First Degree is a Class “D” Non-violent Felony. As such, this charge is punishable by up to 2 1/3 to 7 years in prison. However, conditional discharge, probation and a determinate sentence of 1 year jail or less are all possible sentences for this New York Motor Vehicle Theft charge.

New York Motor Vehicle Theft Charges: Larceny and Possession of Stolen Property

Additionally, New York has charges relating to the unlawful taking and possession of someone else’s property. Some of these charges specifically relate to unlawful taking or possession of cars belonging to someone else.

Petit Larceny

Under New York Penal Law Section 155.25, a person is guilty of Petit Larceny when s/he steals property. As property is generally defined, this charge is applicable to theft of another’s vehicle.

Sentencing and Penalties for Petit Larceny

Petit Larceny is a Class “A” Misdemeanor. As such, this charge is punishable by up to 1 year in prison. Practically speaking, petit larceny charges usually resolve themselves without any jail time. Other possible sentences are probation, conditional discharge, unconditional discharge or time served.

Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree

There is a Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree charge that applies to the stealing of someone else’s car. Under New York Penal Law 155.30(8), a person is guilty of Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree when:

  1. He is she steals the property of another, AND
  2. The property is a motor vehicle; AND
  3. The value of the motor vehicle is over $100.

Penalties and Sentencing for Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree Charges

This New York Motor Vehicle Theft crime is a Class “E” Non-violent felony. Therefore, this charge is punishable by up to 1 1/3 to 4 years in prison. However, sentences of probation, determinate sentence of 1 year jail or less, a conditional discharge or an unconditional discharge are possible outcomes of a plea to Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree charge.

Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Fifth Degree

The New York crime of knowingly being in possession of stolen property is called Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Fifth Degree. Under New York Penal Law 165.40, a person is guilty of this charge when he or she:

  1. Knowingly
  2. Possesses Stolen Property
  3. With intent to benefit himself or a person other than the owner thereof or to prevent the recovery by the owner of the property.

Penalties and Sentencing for Criminal Possession of Property in the Fifth Degree

Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Fifth Degree is a Class “A” Misdemeanor. As such, this particular charge is punishable by up to 1 year in prison. However, sentences of time served, probation, conditional or unconditional discharge apply are permitted for this New York Motor Vehicle Theft charge.

Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Fourth Degree

Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Fourth Degree, under New York Penal Law 165.45(5), is a felony that applies to unlawful possession of someone else’s vehicle. These are the elements of this charge:

  1. Knowingly
  2. Possesses stolen property
  3. The value of which is over $100
  4. The property consists of a motor vehicle

Penalties and Sentencing for Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Fourth Degree

Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Fourth Degree is a Class “E” Non-Violent Felony. As such, this particular charge is punishable by up to 1 1/3 to 4 years in prison. However, sentences of probation, conditional discharge, unconditional discharge or a determinate jail term of a year or less are permissible for this particular charge.

Contact Top Rated Motor Vehicle Theft Attorneys

If you or a loved one have been arrested for motor vehicle theft, you need top rated and experienced Motor Vehicle Theft Attorneys by your side. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.