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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

Marcelo
Marcelo
22:28 23 Feb 24
I assisted a friend with a vehicle-related legal case and couldn’t be more delighted to have worked with Tyler Dahlen. Tyler is a top-notch lawyer who helped us in the best way possible. Tyler was always responsive, followed up on emails and calls, and scheduled meetings to provide updates and discuss further steps, showing respect, commitment, and professionalism at all times. We genuinely felt we were in good hands.The case was completed with successful results, and we can’t be grateful enough. I wouldn’t hesitate to work with Tyler or with this A+ law firm in the future
Breanna Danielson-Strahm
Breanna Danielson-Strahm
20:26 12 Jan 24
Kyle helped me reduce my DUI to exactly what we wanted! He’s has been very friendly, amazing, and supportive through this whole scary process!
Reece Sanders
Reece Sanders
23:16 05 Jan 24
I cannot begin to thank Gerald Miller P.A. for their continued commitment and motivation. Gerald Miller and his associates provided the utmost care, attention to detail and willingness to ensure me that I was being taken care of and heard throughout all steps in the process. As the legal system can be very challenging to navigate, Gerald and his staff made sure that I had no questions that went unanswered or unheard. Throughout the entirety of my experience with this firm, I quickly realized why they are so highly regarded. I will look to recommend any and all people in need of a high quality, caring and driven law firm to Gerald Miller P.A.Thank you again
Gary Krivanek
Gary Krivanek
17:09 15 Dec 23
I would like thank Mr Kyle Dreger for the handling of my case. He was able to answer all my concerns and take the worry out of my mind. Very professional, I would highly recommend.
maddy koss
maddy koss
20:20 01 Dec 23
Nima Adan
Nima Adan
17:20 27 Nov 23
I appreciate all the hard work they do , nothing but the best

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Keeping You Informed

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