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Is Grand Theft Auto a Federal Crime in Minnesota?

Grand theft auto—the informal term for a larceny offense involving a motor vehicle—is not a federal crime. However, if you’re asking is grand theft auto a Federal crime in Minnesota, you should know the details. The consequences of a grand theft auto conviction under state law can still be significant. These felony charges have the potential to result in years behind bars and thousands of dollars in fines.

Whether you are facing state or federal charges, you have the right to seek guidance from an attorney. Your legal counselor can advise you on your options and aid you with fighting back against a charge of grand theft auto.

The attorneys of Gerald Miller have experience defending clients on all manner of theft charges throughout Minnesota. Our attorneys understand how to build a winning defense against a charge of grand theft auto, and we are ready to discuss a strategy with you regarding your case. Call right away to get started.

Federal Offenses Involving Motor Vehicles

While grand theft auto is a state-level offense, there are a number of federal crimes related to stolen motor vehicles. In general, the federal government will only step in when these cases involve interstate or international transportation of stolen vehicles or large-scale auto theft rings.

The federal government will only prosecute offenses related to stolen motor vehicles when there are exceptional circumstances present. These circumstances could include:

  • Individuals that steal more than one vehicle in way that forms a pattern of conduct.
  • Stolen vehicles that are demolished and transported to a foreign country.
  • The theft of heavy commercial vehicles.
  • The stolen vehicle was used in a separate federal crime.

The U.S. Department of Justice also has specific guidelines that they will leave auto theft cases involving minor defendants “joy riding” in a stolen vehicle to the states to deal with.

Grand Theft Auto in Minnesota

Most of the time, the alleged theft of an automobile results in charges under state law. While some jurisdictions have a statute specific to the offense of grand theft auto, Minnesota does not. In fact, Minnesota has one general theft statute that applies in most cases. This statute, found at Minnesota Statutes Section 609.52, sets out 19 individual types of theft charges. One of those relates specifically to the theft of a motor vehicle. According to Section 609.52, it is considered theft when a person:

takes or drives a motor vehicle without the consent of the owner or an authorized agent of the owner, knowing or having reason to know that the owner or an authorized agent of the owner did not give consent;

The language of the statute is important, as it is silent on a defendant’s intent. In other words, it makes no difference if a person takes a vehicle with the intention of keeping it forever or merely joy riding before returning it. Any person that takes a vehicle knowing that they were not authorized to do so could face felony charges.

This statute applies to a wide array of vehicles other than automobiles. According to the statute, it applies to any self-propelled device designed to move persons or property over land, sea, rails, or in the air. That means it applies to everything from motorcycles to airplanes.

Penalties for Grand Theft Auto in Minnesota

In most cases under Minnesota law, the severity of a theft conviction will depend on the value of the item allegedly stolen. Items valued below $1,000 usually lead to misdemeanor offenses. Anything valued above that level will lead to felony charges.

There are some exceptions to that rule, and one of those exceptions involves motor vehicles. Any theft of a motor vehicle is treated as a felony regardless of its value. A conviction will lead to as many as five years in prison and a maximum fine of $1,000.

Consult a Motor Vehicle Theft Charges Lawyer in Minneapolis

Are you asking, Is grand theft auto a Federal crime in Minnesota? If you have been accused of auto theft, the chances are good the federal government will not be involved in your prosecution. That does not mean you are out of the woods, however. Grand theft auto charges in Minnesota are serious, and they carry the potential for a lengthy prison term upon conviction. Let the attorneys of Gerald Miller help you build a winning defense. Call now to learn more or schedule a free consultation.

About the author

Gerald Miller

Gerald Miller is a top-notch and experienced DWI/DUI lawyer at Gerald Miller P.A. in Minneapolis, MN. He has more than 35 years of experience in Criminal Defense practice. He has also been a mentor to numerous DUI/DWI defense attorneys.

Motor vehicle/Auto Theft Articles

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