Possession of a stolen motor vehicle (PSMV) is a felony offense in Florida, and it can result in severe penalties if you are convicted. The penalties for this crime depend on several factors, including the vehicle’s value, whether the defendant had permission to possess the car, and how many times the defendant has been previously convicted of PSMV.
If you have been charged with possession of a stolen motor vehicle, contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer immediately. You may be able to get your charges reduced or dismissed altogether by hiring a lawyer who specializes in defending these types of cases. At Meltzer & Bell, P.A., we will work hard to protect your rights and help you avoid serious consequences. Contact us today at (727) 248-1215 or online to schedule a free consultation.
Overview of Motor Vehicle Theft Laws in Florida
In Florida, theft refers to obtaining or using another person’s property knowingly with the intent to deprive the person of the right to their property either temporarily or permanently. Florida’s auto theft laws are well-stipulated in the state’s theft statute. Let’s take a quick overview:
1. Grand Theft Auto
Grand theft auto is the first felony in Florida, and its penalties vary depending on the value of the stolen vehicle and the facts and circumstances leading to the crime. It can be classified into three different felonies:
- First-degree felony. If one steals or possesses a stolen vehicle valued at $100,000+ or a semitrailer deployed by a law enforcement officer, they shall have committed a first-degree felony. Thus, they may face up to 30 years in prison, a $10,000 fine, or both when convicted.
- Second-degree felony. If the stolen motor vehicle has a value of anywhere between $20,000 and $100,000, it comprises a second-degree felony. In that case, you may face a maximum sentence of 15 years, a fine of up to $10,000, or both.
- Third-degree felony. If the value of the stolen motor vehicle is less than $20,000, you may be charged with a third-degree felony. That means you could receive a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison, a fine of up $5,000.
(Fla. Stat. Ann. §§ 775.082, 775.083, 812.014 (2020).
Carjacking is taking someone else’s automobile without their consent while they’re driving it. It is a violent crime because it involves using force or violence against the victim. Thus, it can also be classified as a first-degree felony and attracts a fine of up to $10,000, 30 years in prison, or both. (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 812.133 (2020).
3. Operating a Chop Shop
A chop shop is a place where stolen or unlawfully obtained vehicles get dismantled to resell the parts or use them to repair another vehicle. When one receives or transfers the possession of the vehicle to such a business, it constitutes a third-degree felony and attracts a punishment of five years in prison. (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 812.16 (2020).
4. Failure to Return a Rental Car
Failing to return a rental car at the end of the contract is a third-degree felony and attracts a $5,000 fine, five years in prison, or both. (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 812.155.)
Defending Against Possession of a Stolen Motor Vehicle Charges
If you’ve been accused of possessing a stolen motor vehicle, you should know that this type of offense has severe penalties. Because of this, you need to hire a skilled criminal defense attorney who knows how to defend clients facing similar charges.
At Meltzer &Bell, P.A., our attorneys have defended many people like you in similar situations. We understand what evidence prosecutors usually present when trying to prove possession of a stolen motor vehicle. We’ll do everything possible to ensure that you don’t go to jail for something you didn’t commit. To learn more about your options, contact an auto theft lawyer today!
What to Expect from Your Auto Theft Lawyer
If you’ve been accused of possessing a stolen motor vehicle, you want to hire a lawyer who will fight aggressively to protect your rights. At Meltzer & Bell, P.A., we are fully prepared to take on any prosecutor who tries to convict you based solely on circumstantial evidence. Our lawyers have extensive experience defending clients facing these charges, so we know exactly what questions to ask during an investigation and which witnesses to call to testify on your behalf.
Here’s a step-by-step breakdown of how we work:
Meet With You
We will meet with you to discuss your situation and determine if there is anything we can do to help. We’ll talk about all aspects of your case during this meeting, including whether you were arrested correctly, whether you should enter a plea bargain, and what kind of potential sentences you might face.
Review Your Case
After meeting with you, we will thoroughly review all of the documents related to your arrest and charge. Then, we prepare a detailed report outlining all of the legal strategies available to you. Finally, we explain to you how each process works.
Negotiate A Plea Bargain
Once we’ve reviewed your case, we’ll negotiate a plea agreement with the prosecutor, agreeing upon a specific sentence the judge will impose. If you accept the terms of the deal, you won’t have to worry about going to trial. Instead, you’ll simply sign the paperwork indicating you’re accepting the plea agreement terms.
Prepare For Trial
Once you’ve signed the plea agreement, we begin preparing your case for trial. We gather all of the necessary information, interview witnesses, and file motions to challenge the validity of your arrest and the evidence against you.
Fight The Charge In Court
When it comes time for your court date, we’ll appear before the judge and argue why you shouldn’t be convicted. We’ll also make sure that you receive a fair trial.
Get Out Of Jail Free
Finally, if your case goes to trial, we’ll try to get the best result possible. We’ll use every tool at our disposal to show that you did not commit the crime charged. If we cannot convince the jury that you are innocent, we’ll request a new trial or appeal the conviction.
Contact Us Today!
To schedule a free consultation where we can discuss your auto theft defense, please contact us online or give us a call at (727) 248-1215. We look forward to hearing from you soon.