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Carjacking and Auto Theft are often used interchangeably. However, each chare requires different elements to prove guilt and vary in penalties. Auto theft penalties can result in serious, life-altering consequences. Your criminal record could be tarnished over a simple misunderstanding.

If you’ve been charged with carjacking or auto theft, schedule a consultation with a theft defense attorney at Berger Law. We will talk through the facts of the case, discern any mitigating circumstances, and explain the criminal justice process to you.

Carjacking Explained

MCL 750.529a outlines the severe penalties for carjacking, as well as the elements required to prove guilt.

Carjacking is a more serious crime than auto theft. To be convicted of carjacking, the prosecution must first prove an individual used violence or threated violence while committing larceny of another person’s vehicle. Second, the prosecution must prove that the individual specifically intended to steal the vehicle. Finally, the prosecution must prove the owner of the vehicle was the lawful owner of the vehicle and in the driver’s or passenger’s seat at the time of the offense.

If convicted, carjacking can be punishable by imprisonment for life.

Auto Theft Explained

While not as serious as carjacking, auto theft can still seriously tarnish your criminal record. If convicted for auto theft, you can expect large fines and time behind bars.

MCL 750.413 defines auto theft as the intentionally taking possession of and driving away with another person’s motor vehicle without consent. Doing so is a felony and punishable by up to 5 years in prison.

If the prosecution cannot prove you intended to steal the motor vehicle, you may be guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by no more than 2 years or a fine up to $1,5000. First offenders may see their sentence reduced to 3 months imprisonment, a fine no more than $500, or both. This offense is sometimes referred to as joyriding.

Carjacking and Auto Theft Defense Lawyer in Marquette

Sometimes a simple case of auto theft can be mischarged as carjacking. Berger Law will analyze the facts of your situation and fight to reduce your sentence as much as possible.

While auto theft and carjacking are the most common auto theft charges, other more intricate charges exist. These offenses concern the selling of or concealing stolen vehicles, tampering with license plates, and interfering with another person’s vehicle or its parts without the owner’s consent. Conviction of such charges can result in fines, imprisonment, and license revocation.

Berger Law has defended plenty of auto theft related charges. The team at Berger Law is passionate about defending citizens of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan from being wrongly convicted.

The police sometimes are unaware of the full story. They may be eager to put you in handcuffs even if you are rightfully operating a motor vehicle. If you have any questions relating to an auto theft crime, call Berger Law. Our team is available 24/7 to answer every question.

Alex Berger exclusively practices criminal defense cases. He knows the criminal justice system as well as anyone. His years of experience have helped many clients see their charges reduced or even dismissed. Scheduling a free consultation could set you on the path to getting your life back.