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Professional Motor Vehicle & Auto Theft Lawyers in Minneapolis, MN

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Criminal & DWI Defense

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Four Minneapolis Auto Theft Attorneys, One Powerful Law Firm

Attorney Kyle Dreger

Kyle Dreger

Attorney Gerald Miller

Gerald Miller

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

Tim Stocker
Tim Stocker
12:11 11 Jun 24
Brodie Hacken did a great job for me. Gave me all the scenario's to be able to make a very informed decision as to which way to proceed.
Ryan Kirmeier
Ryan Kirmeier
21:19 04 Jun 24
He gave me great information during a free call and wasn't pushy. This definitely calmed me down and helped me find a clear path forward.
Noah LaLonde
Noah LaLonde
01:46 28 May 24
Kyle Dreger with Gerald Miller is great. He was able to explain everything about my case and give me good peace of mind, and in the end got me the best outcome. If (god forbid) I ever need representation again, I'd definitely choose him again.
Kyle Hawes
Kyle Hawes
00:14 23 May 24
I hired Gerald Miller law to handle a very difficult case they went above and beyond my greatest expectations. Brodie Hacken listened to my concerns always reached out to see how I was doing then we sat down in cities couple times face to face and established a game plan how to proceed and I couldn't be happier with the outcome from this Law Firm. Highly recommended if I had a son or daughter in big trouble id trust my own children with Brodie Hacken do yourself a huge favor dont be cheap you'll pay way more later and probably never regain your Liberties and true freedom back ever again if you don't just call Gerald Miller these guys know how handle felony cases....
Victoria Kameni
Victoria Kameni
13:38 29 Apr 24
Tyler Dahlen at Gerald Miller is amazing. My case took some time and Tyler briefed me every step of the way, called me, kept me from losing my mind and was genuinely supportive. Tyler was able to find a way to present my case which resulted in a much better outcome than if I had taken this journey alone. I recommend Gerald Miller and specifically Tyler to anyone who finds themselves needing these services.
Linda Zieser
Linda Zieser
18:03 24 Apr 24
I highly recommend this law firm. Tyler Dahlen handled my case. he is a true professional. He made sure to explain everything to me and got me the best possible outcome. I can't thank him enough.

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Keeping You Informed

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