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The Consequences of Illinois Auto Theft

 Posted on January 31, 2024 in Criminal Defense

DuPage County criminal defense lawyerAuto theft falls under general theft in Illinois and is often associated with other crimes like burglary, criminal trespassing, and aggravated battery. No matter what you plan to use the stolen vehicle for, whether joyriding or committing another crime, it is a serious charge with serious penalties. To have someone fight for your rights when facing an auto theft charge, you should get an experienced lawyer.

Auto Theft in Illinois

Illinois’ general theft law prohibits a person from:

  • Knowingly taking or obtaining control over another’s property
  • Taking another’s property without authorization or through deceptive or threatening means while knowing that the property is stolen
  • Taking another’s property with the intent to remove it from that person permanently

Auto theft comes into play when a vehicle is stolen without intent to return it or with intent to abandon, hide, or dispose of it. When deception is used to get a vehicle owner to give it up to the defendant, it is also considered theft. An example would be a valet who is given the keys to the car with the expectation of the vehicle being parked in a safe spot. Instead, the valet takes the car for a joyride or brings it to a “chop shop” to strip it and sell it for parts. A joyride is a criminal trespass with intent to return the vehicle, whereas taking it to a chop shop shows theft with intent not to return it. Each of these offenses has very different penalties associated with them.

If the valet in this example chooses to steal the car and sell it to someone else who knows the car is stolen, then the purchaser of the stolen vehicle will have also committed theft. Depending on how much the car is worth, the penalty could be raised from a Class 2 felony to a Class 1 felony. Even if they do not know the vehicle was stolen but should have known it was based on the circumstances, they could still be charged with theft.

Joyriding and Carjacking

In Illinois, joyriding is considered criminal trespass of a vehicle. Joyriding is a Class A misdemeanor felony charge in Illinois as it only involves a temporary theft of the vehicle with the intent to return it to the owner. Carjacking is considered vehicular hijacking or invasion, which involves knowingly entering a car without authorization to commit another crime (smash and grab) or taking a vehicle using threat or force to the vehicle’s occupant. In either case, the penalty is a Class 1 felony unless aggravating factors were present in a vehicular hijacking. These factors can include:

  • The occupant of the vehicle was over the age of 60 years old
  • A passenger in the vehicle was under the age of 16 years old
  • The accused party was armed with a dangerous weapon or firearm
  • The accused party fired the firearm

If any of these factors exist during the crime, then the penalty is lifted to a Class X felony, which can carry a six to 30-year term of imprisonment. However, if a firearm was involved, fired or not, Illinois will tack on 15 to 25 additional years imprisonment to the sentence.

Contact a DuPage County, IL Criminal Defense Attorney

Auto theft in Illinois is not a laughing matter and will require a solid defense to present in court. Do not attempt to take these charges on alone; contact an experienced Naperville, IL auto theft defense lawyer for your legal representation. The Law Office of Philip R. Nathe will provide you with a free consultation to discuss your case by calling 630-416-7600 right now.

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