Available 24/7/365 Ashburn
Select Language: English Spanish
Select Language: English Spanish

Professional Motor Vehicle & Auto Theft Lawyers in Minneapolis, MN

50+

Years Of Collective Experience

10,000

Cases Successfully Resolved

100%

Criminal & DWI Defense

175+

Five Star Google/BBB Reviews

Four Minneapolis Auto Theft Attorneys, One Powerful Law Firm

Attorney Kyle Dreger

Kyle Dreger

Attorney Gerald Miller

Gerald Miller

Attorney Cody Wright

Cody Wright

Ronnie Santana

Ronnie Santana

How Can Our Motor Vehicle Theft Attorneys in Minneapolis Help You?

Ordinary Auto Theft

Carjacking

Joyriding

Failure to Timely Return Rental Vehicle

Auto theft is one of the most serious felonies in Minnesota. As outlined below, this offense is much broader in the Gopher State than it is elsewhere. In fact, in Hennepin County, auto theft is actually an umbrella term for a number of different offenses.

At Gerald Miller, P.A., our team aggressively challenges the state’s evidence in these cases. This assertive stance usually helps us successfully resolve these cases before trial. Once we unveil the weaknesses in the state’s case, prosecutors are usually willing to enter into favorable plea bargain agreements. These agreements often include reduced charges or a lesser sentence.

Ordinary Auto Theft Defense

Since vehicle theft is a grand theft offense in Minnesota, it is always a felony, regardless of the property’s value.
Generally, taking property, including a motor vehicle, without the consent of the owner constitutes vehicle theft in Minnesota. Note that the person need not intend to permanently deprive the owner of the property. That provision gives rise to some specific kinds of auto theft, which are outlined below.

Ask any reputed Minneapolis Motor Vehicle Auto Theft Lawyer, and they will tell you that lack of evidence is one of the most common defenses to vehicle theft charges. Evidentiary weaknesses usually include a lack of evidence placing the defendant at the scene or the lack of an owner’s testimony. Prosecutors normally rely on circumstantial evidence, such as eyewitness testimony to establish the taking. For various reasons, not all eyewitnesses are competent to testify in court.

Additionally, the vehicle’s owner must appear in court and offer testimony. Frequently, the trial occurs many months after the alleged theft. By that time, many owners have either lost interest in the case or relocated beyond the court’s subpoena power.

An affirmative defense, such as entrapment might be available as well. Local law enforcement agencies sometimes “bait” people with unlocked cars, unchained bicycles, and other tempting targets. If the defendant had no predisposition to commit the crime, such enticements might be illegal.

Carjacking Defense

Prosecutors typically apply the robbery statute to these offenses. Carjacking is basically taking a car from a person by force. Simple carjacking usually involves either the threat of force or mild physical force, such as pushing the driver out of the car.

Simple carjacking, or simple robbery, is a very serious charge. However, there is a difference between auto theft and robbery. When carjacking is involved, you want to work with a Minneapolis Motor Vehicle Auto Theft Lawyer rather than a Robbery Defense Lawyer in Minneapolis. The maximum penalty is ten years in prison. Certain aggravating factors cause the penalty to increase significantly. These enhancements include:

  • Use of a dangerous weapon (almost any object can be a “dangerous weapon”),
  • Infliction of bodily harm (“bodily harm” essentially means any injury requiring first aid), and
  • Falsely claiming that a weapon is involved (e.g. saying “get out of the car or I’ll shoot you” even though the defendant did not have a gun).

Once again, lack of evidence is often an effective defense, particularly to aggravated carjacking. Frequently, prosecutors rely on the alleged victim’s account of the carjacking to prove an aggravating factor. Observations made during periods of extreme stress are notoriously unreliable. Additionally, if the alleged victim’s trial testimony is different from statements made to police officers, the jury might disregard this testimony altogether.

Joyriding Defense

In many states, joyriding is a lesser offense, since there is no intent to permanently deprive the owner of the property. But in Minnesota, joyriding is a subset of auto theft. Legally, joyriding is taking another person’s car without the consent of the owner. Frequently, these infractions involve underage drivers who take a relative’s or friend’s care without permission.

Permission, or the lack thereof, is often the key element. Many times, owners leave their vehicles unlocked and the keys in an easily accessible area. Such actions could be construed as giving permission, especially if the owner has granted permission on a previous occasion.

Failure to Timely Return Rental Vehicle

There is no hard and fast rule as to when an overdue return becomes an auto theft matter. Technically, if the renter returns the vehicle one minute late. The rental company could press auto theft charges. The 10 percent rule is usually a better rule of thumb. For example, if the defendant rented a car for three days (seventy-two hours) and returned it more than seven hours late, vehicle theft charges might hold up in court.

Owners are more likely to press charges if the defendant did not communicate with the owner, returned a damaged car late, or had no legitimate excuse for the delay.

Frequently Asked Questions

Motor vehicle theft in Minnesota is taking property, such as a car or truck, without the consent of the owner. Subsets of vehicle theft include joyriding, carjacking, and failure to timely return a rental.
Generally, no. Criminal infractions are usually in personam matters. In other words, a person, and not a thing, is on trial. However, if someone uses your car to commit a crime, the vehicle could be subject to forfeiture.
Technically yes. But if the owner timely reported the car stolen, the charges will probably not hold up in court.
Carjacking, or aggravated motor vehicle theft, is basically a combination of theft and robbery. Any violence, use of a weapon, or threat of a weapon, could support aggravated motor vehicle theft charges in Minnesota.
The National Insurance Crime Bureau, and other agencies, use the Vehicle Identification Number to determine if a car was stolen. VIN usage often comes up in possession of stolen property cases. Furthermore, it is a federal offense to alter the VIN number.

How We Make A Difference For You

See What Our Clients Say

Eric Ziegler
Eric Ziegler
20:44 08 Jul 22
Walked me through the entire process for my DUI. Know their stuff. I made a mistake and they knew that and treated me like a person, not just a case. Made a few great calls in navigating the case and we ended up with the best case scenario. Could not recommend anyone higher!
Bee Way
Bee Way
07:35 26 Jun 22
Matthew Gweh
Matthew Gweh
22:04 17 Jun 22
Kyle has earned a special place in my heart. Couldn’t thank him enough for his service to me. If you are reading this, it means I was similar position as you. Do not hesitate to hire Gerald Miller’s Law. You’ll be in the right hand.
Jim Greenwood
Jim Greenwood
20:38 25 May 22
Rolled a red light after Happy hour and got pulled over. Refused field test and went to police station and called Gerald Miller P.A. They answered immediately and advised me to take the breath test. Tried breath test several times but they were having problems with their machine. After several more tries they said I burped and they consider this a refusal. They drove me downtown to Henn County Jail. Spent less that a full day there until I was offered bond which Jerry set up. Needless to say , I was expecting 30 days jail time and who knows what else. After Kyle and Gerald finished negotiating with Prosecutor, I was fined $1500 and 10 days community service. I had 7 charges and was dropped to 2 charges. I highly recommend keeping their number in case a friend or God forbid you need help! JG
William Hennes
William Hennes
16:54 11 May 22
Kyle and GM overall are excellent. Highly recommended.
aaron p
aaron p
16:19 02 May 22
Ronnie took care of everything which took a lot of extra stuff off my mind, available 24/7, got it sorted before I needed to even go to pretrial or anything, met with me beforehand to discuss options and what was smart but let me decide ultimately. Got my license temporarily reinstated before the trial began which was huge, I needed my car during that time. Had no bad experiences at all, completely worth it in my opinion.

See More Testimonials

Keeping You Informed

Latest Blog Posts

Is Stealing a Car a Felony in Minnesota?

Author: Gerald Miller

According to Minnesota state law, stealing a car is always treated as a felony. This sets auto theft

READ MORE >

What Is Aggravated Motor Vehicle Theft in Minneapolis?

Author: Cody Wright

In every state, there are statutes that steeply punish the theft or unlawful use of a motor vehicle.

READ MORE >

Is Grand Theft Auto a Federal Crime in Minnesota?

Author: Gerald Miller

Grand theft auto—the informal term for a larceny offense involving a motor vehicle—is not a

READ MORE >

 

Get A Free Consultation

Acting quickly will minimize the impact. Don’t wait act now!