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What Happens When You Get Charged with Automobile theft in Minneapolis?

A lot of things can happen following an arrest for Automobile theft in Minneapolis. You can expect to be booked, face a judge during your arraignment, and potentially see your case go to trial. That says nothing of the consequences that come with a conviction.

The good news is that your conviction is never guaranteed. An important part of the legal process following an arrest for auto theft is the opportunity you have to defend yourself. You could build a winning defense with the help of the right theft attorney.

The attorneys of Gerald Miller are here to help you through every step of an automobile theft case. From your arraignment to your trial and all points in between, our firm could serve as your advocate. Reach out today to learn more.

What is Auto Theft in Minneapolis?

To understand what happens when you are charged with Automobile theft in Minneapolis, it is important to be clear on what this charge entails. Under state law, there is no criminal offense known as “auto theft” or “grand theft auto.” Instead, the state will charge you under the general theft statute following the alleged theft of a motor vehicle. That statute is found in Minneapolis Statute Section 609.52.

The theft statute covers a wide range of alleged criminal acts, but that does not mean it relies on broad language. Instead, the statute spells out 19 different circumstances that each qualifies as an act of theft. One of those specific circumstances involves the theft of an automobile. According to the statute, it is considered theft to take or drive a motor vehicle without the consent of the owner, knowing or having reason to know that consent was not given.

There are important details to consider regarding Automobile theft in Minneapolis. First, you could be charged and convicted of theft if you took another person’s vehicle when you believed to have their consent to do so, so long as the state can show that you had reason to know that no such consent existed. Additionally, you could face charges even if you did not intend to permanently take the vehicle from its owner. That means “joyriding” in a vehicle that is not yours is treated the same as any other attempt to steal a motor vehicle.

The Criminal Process Following a Theft Arrest in Minneapolis

There is an established process for criminal cases in Minneapolis. While your auto theft case could take many different turns along the way before it concludes, you can count on it to follow the same general pattern as most other criminal prosecutions.


Once you have been arrested and charged with Automobile theft in Minneapolis, you will receive notice of your arraignment. This is the first court hearing in a criminal case. Depending on the circumstances, you might be required to remain in police custody until your arraignment date. If you are able to bond out of jail, you will be given notice of your first court appearance.

In either case, your arraignment is important. For some people, it is the first opportunity they will get to secure a bail amount and get out of jail pending trial. If you have already been released following your arrest, this is less of an issue.

Your arraignment is important for another reason. This court hearing is your opportunity to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. It is best to consult with an attorney prior to this hearing, as a plea of guilty ends your case—and your opportunity to secure a better outcome. Pleading guilty leaves your penalty in the hands of the court without any settlement agreement in place with the state. It is important to plead not guilty to give yourself time to build a defense or negotiate a plea bargain.

Status Hearings in Minneapolis

Your arraignment is only one of the hearings likely to take place during the course of your case. You could also have a number of a status hearing as your case winds its way through the court system. Often, these status hearings do little more than inform the court of the status of the case. However, these hearings can also involve motions to dismiss or to address other issues prior to trial.

Plea Offers in Minneapolis

Most of the time, the state will make a plea offer in auto theft cases. These plea offers typically come early on in the case in the hopes that they will resolve the case without extensive litigation.

There are times when accepting a plea bargain might be in your best interest. If the state’s case is strong, a conviction at trial might be the most likely outcome. In that situation, pleading guilty might give you the best chance at a favorable outcome.

The critical thing to keep in mind at this point in your auto theft trial is that guidance from an attorney is invaluable. Your attorney could help you understand if a plea bargain is reasonable, and if negotiating for better terms is in your best interest. In some cases, your attorney might suggest that you walk away from negotiations entirely.


When plea bargains and motions to dismiss are unsuccessful, the final stage of any auto theft case is a criminal trial. Typically, these cases are heard in front of a jury. It is possible to request that the case be heard by a judge, instead. Your attorney could give you an idea of which option is better for your case.

Taking your case to trial can be stressful, especially if you are unfamiliar with the criminal process. Thankfully, having the right attorney by your side could advise you on what to expect. This includes determining whether or not it is in your best interest to testify.

You Could Have Varying Defense Strategies in These Cases

What happens after an arrest for auto theft can largely depend on your defense strategy. If your defense is successful, it could result in the prosecution dismissing the charges against you voluntarily. A strong defense could also result in a successful motion to dismiss from your attorney. Some of the defense strategies that are commonly used in auto theft cases include:

  • Mistaken identity
  • Consent
  • Lack of evidence
  • Unlawful search or seizure
  • Lack of intent

Finding the right defense strategy can be difficult on your own. Thankfully, our firm is here to help you find the right approach for your case.

The Stakes are Higher in Auto Theft Cases

The stakes in Automobile theft in Minneapolis cases are often higher than in other theft-based offenses. This is true even in situations involving stolen goods or services of a similar value to a motor vehicle. This is because of the way state law treats auto theft compared to other theft offenses.

The law requires prosecutors to treat every auto theft case as a felony. This is a deviation from most theft cases, as the value of the item allegedly stolen usually determines the potential penalties. For example, the theft of merchandise is considered a misdemeanor in some cases when the value of those items is below a specific price point. That is not the case with motor vehicles. Whether the car that was allegedly stolen is worth $500 or $50,000, you can expect felony charges following an arrest.

Of course, an arrest for felony theft does not guarantee a conviction. You have the right to defend yourself from these charges. By aggressively pursuing the appropriate defense strategy, you could see the charges against you dismissed or even secure an acquittal at trial. Let the attorneys of Gerald Miller help you obtain the fair outcome you deserve.

Talk to an Attorney About Auto Theft in Minneapolis

If you are facing charges of auto theft in Minneapolis, the process can be difficult to manage on your own. There are important deadlines and strategic decisions to consider, and a mistake could put you at a tremendous disadvantage.

The attorneys of Gerald Miller know what is at stake with your automobile theft case. We have a record of success when it comes to defending the accused, and we look forward to the opportunity to fight for you. Before you consider a plea bargain, reach out to the attorneys of Gerald Miller today for a free consultation.

Related Content: What It Means To Be In Physical Control of A Vehicle For DWI

About the author

Kyle Dreger

Kyle Dreger is a skilled DUI/DWI and Criminal Defense lawyer at Gerald Miller P.A. Kyle has received his law degree from the University of St. Thomas School of Law. He is also a professionally trained basketball player.

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