Larceny of a Motor Vehicle

Automobile theft or larceny of a motor vehicle has become one of the most aggravating and, without doubt, one of the costliest crimes now confronting both the police and the public. The loss incurred from the theft of automobiles traditionally been far greater than all other crimes against property combined. The Federal Bureau of Investigation estimates that nationwide nearly $5.2 billion was lost to motor vehicle thefts in 2009. The related crime of using an automobile without the authority of the owner is also the cause of great public frustration and inconvenience. The Massachusetts Police break this crime into five categories: joy riding; use in the commission of a crime; stripping and "chop shops"; professional car theft; and defrauding the insurance company. All of these crimes are treated very seriously and prosecuted to the utmost extent. In the Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 266 Section 28, motor vehicle theft is defined as the theft or attempted theft of a motor vehicle. For the purposes of this crime, a motor vehicle is a self-propelled vehicle that runs on land surfaces and not on rails. Common examples of motor vehicles include sport utility vehicles, automobiles, trucks, buses, motorcycles, motor scooters, all-terrain vehicles, and snowmobiles. However, farm equipment, bulldozers, airplanes, construction equipment, and watercraft such as motorboats, sailboats, houseboats, or jet skis are not included under this section and therefore, not punishable under this particular law.

MGL c. 266, s. 28 provides that any individual who steals or maliciously damages a motor vehicle, or any individual who buys, receives, conceals, or obtains control of a motor vehicle knowing or having reason to know it was stolen, or any individual who takes a motor vehicle without the permission of the owner and steals from it any of its part or accessories, shall be held in violation of this law. A conviction for felony larceny of a motor vehicle shall result in the following penalties:

  • Imprisonment in the state prison for no more than 15 years, or
  • Imprisonment in a jail or house of correction for no more than 2.5 years, or
  • A fine not to exceed $15,000, or
  • Both such fine and imprisonment.
  • A conviction under this section shall also result in immediate suspension of a driver’s license for 1 year for a first offense, and 5 years for any subsequent offense.

Upon conviction under this section, in addition to any other punishment the defendant is required to make restitution for any financial loss sustained by the victim, his dependents, and his insurance company including, but not limited to, loss of earnings, out-of-pocket expenses, and replacement costs.

Also punishable under this law are those who conceal any motor vehicle thief knowing him to be such. A conviction shall result in the following punishments:

  • Imprisonment for not more than 10 years, or
  • Imprisonment in jail or house of correction for not more than 2.5 years, or
  • A fine of not more than $5,000, or
  • Both fine and imprisonment.

It is an essential element of this offense that the defendant actually knew or believed that the motor vehicle had been stolen or the person concealed had stolen a motor vehicle. Whenever a person’s knowledge is at issue, you normally must rely on circumstantial evidence to determine what the person did or didn’t know, since it is not possible to look directly into a person’s mind. Looking to all the circumstances of the transaction may be particularly necessary where stolen property is involved

In order to convict an alleged offender of this crime, the prosecution must be able to prove 1 of the following 5 alternatives:

  1. The defendant stole a motor vehicle, or
  2. The defendant injured or destroyed a motor vehicle belonging to another person, and did so with malice, or
  3. The defendant bought, received, possessed, concealed, obtained control of a stolen motor vehicle with knowledge or reason to have knowledge that it was stolen, or
  4. The defendant intentionally took a motor vehicle without authority of the owner and stole from it one or more of its parts or accessories, or
  5. The defendant concealed a person who had a stolen motor vehicle, while knowing that the person had done so.
Boston, Massachusetts Motor Vehicle Larceny Defense Lawyer

At the Law Office of Patrick J. Murphy, we offer the in-depth, insightful expertise you need. With over 18 years of experience and knowledge of the law and the legal system, Attorney Murphy understands the seriousness of a larceny of a motor vehicle offense, how best to defend you, and how to resolve your case in the most favorable way possible. From our office in downtown Boston, the Law Office of Patrick J. Murphy represents individuals charged with Massachusetts motor vehicle larceny and other theft crimes in Suffolk County, and in many other counties in Massachusetts. Contact our office today by calling (617) 367-0450 or by directly emailing Attorney Murphy now through our online contact page. Communicate with Attorney Murphy 24/7 about the facts of your case and benefit from his knowledge and experience today.

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