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Detroit Car Theft Lawyer

If you’ve been accused of stealing a car, you could face severe consequences if convicted. You may serve jail time, pay a fine, and have a felony entry on your criminal record that can keep you from getting a job. At Davis Law Group, we’re committed to defending our clients against criminal charges that can seriously compromise their future. Having worked both as a prosecutor and a defense attorney, Maurice Davis knows the ins and outs of the criminal justice system, and he puts this experience towards aggressively defending his clients’ interests.

Using Force in the Commission of Car Theft or Robbery

The most serious auto-related crime is carjacking. Michigan Statute 750.529a states that a person who uses force or the threat of force in the course of stealing a car or property from within it will be charged with a felony punishable by imprisonment for any term of years, and possibly a life sentence.

For purposes of this statute, the use or threat of force does not need to happen at the same time as the theft. Prosecutors can charge a suspect for carjacking if the use of force happens during an aborted theft attempt, during the escape, or even much later when attempting to retain possession of the stolen car. With such a broad reach, it is possible for prosecutors to use this law in a variety of factual scenarios.

Car Theft and Related Crimes

In Michigan, statute 750.413 defines car theft, which it describes as taking possession of a motor vehicle and driving away. The statute prohibits any person from willfully taking a car belonging to another and driving it away without the owner’s consent. Any person who violates this statute—including any accomplices—may be guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment for up to five years.

When prosecutors are unable to prove that the defendant acted with the intent to steal the car, they may resort to Michigan Statute 750.414. This statute criminalizes the act of taking or using someone’s vehicle without his or her consent even when there is no intent steal the vehicle. Accordingly, the punishment for this crime is less severe. If convicted, the defendant will face up to two years in jail and/or a fine of $1,500. For first time offenders, a judge may reduce the sentence to three months imprisonment and/or a fine of $500.

Michigan Statute 750.415 prohibits activities linked to car theft. The statute makes it illegal to unintentionally conceal or misrepresent the identity of a motor vehicle by removing or defacing the vehicle identification numbers affixed to both the engine and the frame. The penalty for violating this statute is a misdemeanor, but if the prosecutor can show that you misrepresented your vehicle’s identity with criminal intentions, you will have your license revoked and be punished with a felony.

Michigan Statute 750.416 makes a misdemeanor out of tampering or meddling with another person’s vehicle. This statute makes it possible to punish people caught in the act of stealing a car. The statute specifically prohibits:

  • Intentionally starting or maliciously putting into gear a vehicle without authority from the owner
  • Intentionally cutting, marking, scratching, or damaging the chassis, running gear, body, sides, top, covering, upholstering or accessories of any motor vehicle without the permission of the owner
  • Intentionally releasing the brake of any standing motor vehicle, with the intent to injure the vehicle or to move it without the consent of the owner

Crimes Relating to the Sale, Possession, or Purchase of Stolen Cars

According to Michigan Statute 750.415, it’s illegal to buy or obtain control of a vehicle with the intent to sell it or otherwise dispose it knowing that an identification number of vehicle or one of its parts has been removed or altered. Violators may be guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment of up to 10 years and/or a fine of $20,000.00.

In the same vein, Michigan Statute 750.535 makes it illegal for a person to buy, receive or even possess a stolen vehicle when the person knows or has reason to know that the car was stolen.

For vehicles worth more than $20,000, violators may be guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment for up to ten years and/or a fine of $15,000.00. This is the penalty for third-time offenders—no matter the value of the vehicle involved. Their fine will be $15,000 or three times the value of the property received—whichever is greater.

For vehicles worth between $1,000 and $20,000, violators may face a felony conviction garnering a sentence of up to five years and/or a fine of $10,000. This is also the penalty in store for second-time offenders—regardless of the value of the vehicle. In this case, the fine will be three times the value of the vehicle.

Stealing Property from an Automobile

Michigan Statute 750.356a concerns larceny on vehicles. It prohibits stealing or unlawfully removing or taking any wheel, tire, air bag, catalytic converter, radio, stereo, clock, telephone, computer, or other electronic device from any motor vehicle, house trailer, trailer, or semitrailer. Violators may be guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment for up to five years, a fine of not more than $10,000.00, or both.

A person who steals any property contained within a motor vehicle, house trailer, trailer, or semitrailer and who breaks, tears, cuts, or otherwise damages any part of the vehicle may be guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment up to five years or a fine of $10,000.00, or both, regardless of the value of the property.

If the violator does not damage any part of the vehicle, and the value of the property stolen is less than $200.00, the penalty is a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for up to 93 days and/or a fine of $500.00 or three times the value of the property, whichever is greater.

For second offenders of the above section, or for people who steal property worth between $200.00 and $1,000.00, the penalty is a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for up to one year and/or a fine of up to $2,000.00 or three times the value of the property, whichever is greater.

For second offenders of the above section, or when the property stolen is worth between $1,000 and $20,000, the penalty is a felony punishable by imprisonment of up to five years and/or a fine of up to $10,000.00 or three times the value of the property, whichever is greater.

For second offenders of the above section, or when the property is worth $20,000 or more, the penalty is a felony punishable by imprisonment of up to ten years and/or a fine of not more than $15,000.00 or three times the value of the property, whichever is greater.

Your Detroit Car Theft Lawyer Can Help

Michigan has harsh laws concerning automobile-related crimes. If you’ve been charged with one of the crimes describes on this page, you may be able to avoid a harsh sentence or even defeat the prosecution’s case with a skilled Detroit car theft lawyer by your side. For example, Maurice Davis can defend your case using some of the strategies below:

  • Having the evidence against you thrown out because it was obtained illegally or without a proper warrant
  • Objecting to crucial evidence of the prosecution’s case based on the rules of evidence and procedure
  • Showing that your arrest and subsequent detention and interrogation were unconstitutional
  • Proving that you did not commit the actions of which you are accused
  • Claiming that you did not act with criminal intent
  • Advocating for a lenient sentence by highlighting mitigating factors for the judge at the sentencing hearing

If you’ve been charged, do not talk to the police or to the prosecutors until you have spoken with your lawyer. This will enable your lawyer to build a better defense for your case, since any statements you make can and will be used against you. If you want to talk to Maurice Davis about your case, you can call him today at for a free and confidential consultation.