Criminal auto theft is a serious charge, and it’s not nearly as much fun as the famous game Grand Theft Auto makes it seem. It could change your life if you’re charged with something you didn’t do. Whether you’re charged with misappropriation or theft of another person’s vehicle, you could spend months to years in jail with steep penalties. Hiring an auto theft attorney in NC is essential in building a powerful defense strategy and fighting these false accusations.
Why Do You Need a Criminal Defense Attorney for Auto Theft in NC?
A criminal defense attorney specializing in auto theft cases is vital to counter the false accusations against you, especially if you’re not involved in vehicle theft in NC.
The criminal law in NC for auto theft is complicated. Plus, the current sentencing formula means that the defendant could face serious penalties even with minimal criminal involvement or even if you are falsely accused simply because of a weak defense. Hence, it would help if you had an auto theft attorney in NC to navigate the complexities of the law and build a strong defense. Otherwise, the legal process can be overwhelming, especially for someone facing these accusations for the first time.
A legal expert, such as an auto theft attorney, will help you achieve a favorable outcome to your case.
Penalties for Auto Theft in NC
How serious is an auto theft crime in NC? The penalties for auto theft will vary based on several factors, such as the value of the vehicle and the severity of the charges. Since there are no specific laws about stealing a vehicle in NC, it will fall under the penalties of theft crimes. Whereas there was a distinction between grand and petit larceny before, there is no such thing in the NC law anymore. Whether it is a grand or petit larceny, it is charged as a class H felony. But if the vehicle value is under $1,000, you will face a class 1 misdemeanor charge.
The penalty for a class H felony (for vehicle theft in NC) varies based on your criminal history. You will fall under Prior Record Level I if you don’t have a criminal history and you’ll face a sentence of four to eight months of jail time (although most convicted criminals stay in jail for five to six months). However, anyone with a criminal history with a Prior Record Level II to VI may face a longer sentence.
The best action is to talk to your attorney once you are charged with auto theft, especially if it is a false accusation. Once you have an attorney, you can start building your action plan toward proving these charges as false accusations.
Defense Strategies on False Auto Theft Accusations in NC
Once you’ve hired an attorney, what do you do next? The prosecution team carries the burden of proof that you stole the vehicle. Proving that someone stole and misappropriated another’s vehicle can fall under any of these circumstances:
- A suspect stole or used a vehicle that isn’t their property.
- A suspect stole or used a vehicle without consent from the owner.
- A suspect stole or used a vehicle, intending not to return it to the owner.
Your criminal defense attorney in NC specializing in auto theft crimes can build a defense surrounding the above mentioned circumstances. Unless the prosecution team can demonstrate that you are guilty of any or all three of the above situations, you can find a way to get around these false accusations and prove your innocence.
Consent is the main element that the court considers when evaluating auto theft crimes. If you were falsely accused of vehicle theft, your lawyer will find proof that you were given consent to use the vehicle. If the owner has explicitly consented to you using or driving their vehicle, there are no legal grounds to charge you with theft in Greensboro, NC.
For example, you asked a friend to borrow their vehicle for an agreed time frame. It could be that you both agreed to this, but your friend had forgotten they had given consent for you to use the vehicle. Your lawyer can help you gather evidence to show that your friend had consented. An excellent example of this is a text message or conversation between you and your friend that shows they had agreed to you using their vehicle. Thus, your attorney can use that evidence to support your case against the false auto theft charges.
Another possible defense for false accusations of vehicle theft in NC is a mistake of fact. Your legal defense team can argue that you misunderstood the facts surrounding using another person’s vehicle. For example, you borrow a vehicle from your friend without knowing that your friend has bought a stolen vehicle. An attorney can build a solid defense strategy involving your case to dismiss or reduce your charges.
The intent is also crucial in building your defense for false accusations against auto theft in NC. The prosecution team must explicitly show that you intended to deprive the owner of access to and permanent use of their vehicle. Gather enough evidence to support your intent to reduce or dismiss the crime altogether.
Lastly, you could also use false identification as a defense strategy if you were not involved in any auto crime. A typical example is that you were falsely identified as someone who committed a particular crime. You can use an alibi to strengthen your fight against these false accusations. For example, if the auto theft took place at a specific time or day, you could use receipts or CCTV footage as proof of your alibi that you were someplace else and could not have committed the crime. Your attorney will gather the necessary evidence that will prove your innocence.
These are a few of the defense strategies your legal defense team could use to tip the case in your favor. Make sure to provide your attorney with the necessary information surrounding the case so they can determine the best course of legal action. You could avoid months to years of jail time and thousands of dollars in fines with a successful defence using a Greensboro auto theft attorney.