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Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle

When a car is stolen or taken or used without authorization in Maryland, it is often charged as unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, a misdemeanor with a minimum sentence of 6 months and $50, and not more than 4 years and $100. The minimum sentence only applies for a conviction, and does not include probation before judgment. Like other theft offenses, part of the penalty is that the property must be returned, or if that is not possible, the owner must be compensated for the value of the car.

Unauthorized use of a motor vehicle can be a particularly significant charge even though it is a misdemeanor because it carries a minimum sentence for conviction, which is unusual among Maryland car theft criminal offenses. Along with unauthorized use of a motor vehicle under CR § 7-203, you might also be charged with Motor Vehicle Theft under CR § 7-105, and/or general theft of a motor vehicle under CR § 7-104 with an appropriate value range, which will usually be theft between $1500 and $25,000. These are each different in their own way, and none of them precludes prosecution for the others, though there are some restrictions to prevent multiple punishments under these statutes from adding on top of one another.

Intent is really important in car theft offenses, and it is the primary differentiator between the various types of car theft criminal offenses in Maryland.

Motor Vehicle Theft

Motor Vehicle Theft under CR § 7-105 in Maryland is a felony, punishable by up to 5 years in jail and a $5000 fine. It does not have a minimum, and like other Maryland theft offenses, it requires the restoration of the vehicle to the owner, or if that is not possible, restoration of its value to the owner.

Unlike unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, motor vehicle theft does not prohibit the defense that the defendant did not intend to keep the property, did not intend to deprive the owner, or just intended to borrow it for a little while.

Theft of a Motor Vehicle

A car is property, and like other property, a car theft can also be charged as a theft under Maryland’s general theft statute, with the appropriate dollar amount based on the value of the car when it was taken. Because the item in question is a car, and most cars on the road are worth between $1500 and $25,000, that is typically what will be charged. Maryland’s theft statute has penalties that vary based on value, but anything with a value of $1500 or more is a felony punishable by 5 years and a $5000 fine, or even more if the value exceeds $25,000. Theft in any amount lower than $1500 is a misdemeanor. Maryland’s general theft statute requires an intent to do more than simply borrow a car, it requires an intent to deprive the owner. Punishment for a conviction under Maryland’s Motor Vehicle Theft statute is considered to be included in a conviction under Maryland’s general theft statute, to avoid additional punishment for someone convicted of both for the same act.

All of these vehicle theft statutes are different, but they can all be charged in the same case. If you have been charged with a motor vehicle theft or car theft related crime, you need to contact me immediately. I have years of experience successfully defending people against serious theft charges, and I can help you too. Call me at (301) 556‑8709 today, because your case is important.