Motor Vehicle Property Crimes

Motor vehicle property crime in the United States continues to be a huge problem resulting in about 1.2 million thefts every year.  As you can imagine, insurance companies track property losses and estimate them to be in the billions of dollars each year.  Even though motor vehicle theft has been reduced somewhat in the past few years, police and law enforcement authorities are cracking down hard on motor vehicle related crime.  Motor vehicle theft continues to be prosecuted vigorously in court in order to further reduce these high numbers.  Unfortunately innocent people are sometime trapped in the large net that the police cast in order to solve the motor vehicle theft problem.  Imagine that you are unwittingly in a stolen motor vehicle with someone and you are just getting a ride.  Many times the police will stop the driver of the motor vehicle and arrest all the occupants in the vehicle only to let the court sort it all out later.

Motor Vehicle Theft Crimes in Massachusetts

As a state, Massachusetts is no stranger to motor vehicle related property crimes.  In the Commonwealth, motor vehicle theft related crimes is covered in G.L. c. 266, § 28, the criminal statute that punishes the following prohibited acts with respect to motor vehicles or trailers:

  1. Stealing or maliciously damaging a motor vehicle or its trailer in Massachusetts;
  2. Buying, receiving, possessing or concealing a motor vehicle in Massachusetts or its trailer knowing or having reason to know the motor vehicle is stolen;
  3. Taking or obtaining control of a motor vehicle without the authority of the owner in Massachusetts and stealing any of its parts or accessories.
Under G.L. c. 266, § 28, it is a felony crime to engage in these prohibited acts.  A conviction in Massachusetts for motor vehicle theft  may result in up to 15 years in state prison or by imprisonment in a house of correction for up to 2 ½  years or by a fine of up to $15,000.00, or both fine and imprisonment.  In addition, restitution for any financial loss would be mandatory. There are many caveats and nuances to the Massachusetts motor vehicle property crimes law, which can be very complicated and hard to understand. For instance, even though a person may be charged with both theft of a motor vehicle and receiving that motor vehicle, a skilled motor vehicle property crimes defense attorney will know that you can not be convicted of both crimes in the same complaint.  Therefore, it is crucial to speak with an experienced and aggressive Massachusetts motor vehicle theft crimes criminal defense attorney to fight for you in court to spot all of the legal issues that can arise should you be arrested or investigated for a motor vehicle property crime.

The Massachusetts motor vehicle theft statute also considers evidence that an identifying number or numbers of a motor vehicle or trailer or part of one has been intentionally and/or maliciously:

  •      Removed
  •      Defaced
  •      Altered
  •      Changed
  •      Destroyed
  •      Obliterated
  •      Mutilated

This can result in entry into the court record of proof or prima facie evidence that a defendant knew or had reason to know that the motor vehicle or trailer or part thereof had been stolen.

In order for the Commonwealth to charge someone with this crime, the Commonwealth must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant knew that the motor vehicle or the parts of the motor vehicle was in fact stolen. This element is the most challenging to prove, as someone can buy the property without the knowledge that it was in fact stolen. Many times, an innocent person can find themselves facing rather harsh penalties, when they in fact had done nothing wrong and had purchased a car from someone that they believed was a legitimate party.

This law also provides for enhanced punishment if a person convicted of a second or subsequent offense of the motor vehicle theft law.  If so, a defendant would not be eligible for any of the following ways to avoid prolonged incarceration:

  •     Probation
  •     Parole
  •     Furlough
  •     Work Release

As you can see, this is harsh and complicated law, and it is best to receive professional legal help as soon as possible when you are facing felony charges.

Boston, Massachusetts Motor Vehicle Theft Crimes Lawyer

In summary, both the police and courts take the charge of stealing and concealing stolen property very seriously. If you are charged with any Massachusetts motor vehicle theft offense, it is best to get an attorney involved as early as possible and it is wise not to talk with the police until you have secured counsel. Attorney Patrick J. Murphy offers a free, confidential consultation and has had over nineteen years of experience with motor vehicle property theft crimes. There are a number of ways to resolve a case while keeping your record clean, but it is very important to get an attorney that can assist you.  Contact the Law Office of Patrick J. Murphy today at 617-367-0450.
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