Avoiding Grand Theft Charges in Maryland
Two friends are hanging out. One does not have a driver’s license but decides to borrow the other’s car without asking. Sadly, the unlicensed friend gets pulled over and charged with driving without a license. Under Section 16-305 of the Maryland Transportation Code, the friend who let him borrow the vehicle can actually be cited with a traffic violation for knowingly allowing someone to drive while in violation of the law. This can result in five points against his license.
However, when faced with a citation for letting the unlicensed friend use his vehicle, what if the vehicle owner says he had no idea, or that he never permitted the friend to drive it? This can be bad news for the friend, as his traffic ticket may have just become felony theft. This is just one of the many ways that otherwise well-intentioned people get charged with a serious felony.
What is Grand Theft in Maryland?
In Maryland, it’s technically called “felony theft,” and there are two different offenses that can be brought against you for taking another person’s vehicle.
Felony Theft of a Motor Vehicle
In Section 7-104, the law makes it is a felony to take someone’s automobile without their permission. To qualify under this offense, the conduct must be with intent to deprive the person of the vehicle by use of force, deception, or some other illicit means. Further, the conduct must be willful. So, technically, if you borrow a vehicle while someone else is unaware of your use, you could be charged with this offense. But if you had no intention to actually deprive them of the vehicle, you shouldn’t be charged with this offense. However, an unwary suspect can easily slip up and say the wrong thing during a police questioning, thus leading to an unintended confession to this charge.
Taking a Motor Vehicle
Next, in Section 7-105, Maryland law says that even if you have no intention of permanently depriving the rightful owner of his car, just taking it without permission is still a felony.
Penalties for Stealing a Car in Maryland
Felony sentences can have long-lasting consequences that go far beyond fines, court fees, and jail time. A felony can keep you from owning a firearm, getting certain types of jobs, voting, or even getting a fishing license in some states. If you are convicted (or plead guilty to) stealing or taking a car without permission of the owner, here are some of the sentences you could face:
- Took the vehicle without permission, but had no intention to deprive the owner
Up to $5,000 fine and 5 years in jail
- Took vehicle with the intent to deprive owner:
Total value: $1,000 to $9,999.99 Up to $10,000 fine and 10 years in prison
Total value: $10,000 to $99,999.99 Up to $15,000 fine and 15 years in prison
Total value: $100,000 or more Up to $25,000 fine and 25 years in prison
It’s important to note that you can be charged with both crimes simultaneously, and all convictions carry a requirement that the offender make restitution, meaning give back or pay back what was taken.
Arrested for Vehicle Theft in Maryland
If you or someone you care about has been charged with a serious theft-related crime, including auto theft, you need aggressive and experienced legal help now. Do not make the mistake of speaking with law enforcement without an attorney. As you can see, simply borrowing a car can potentially turn into a serious 10 to 15 year prison term if you say the wrong thing. Call the Law Offices of Todd K. Mohink, P.A. in Maryland to talk to a lawyer today.