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Stealing Cars and Colorado’s Motor Vehicle Theft Laws

On Behalf of | May 8, 2020 | Theft |


Automobile theft is a very serious offense in Colorado that involves stealing another’s car, truck, van, or motorcycle. How long the person takes control of the vehicle and where they take it are major factors of this specific crime. Additionally, causing damage in the process or altering the car can escalate the charges. Always be sure you have permission to borrow someone’s car before you get behind the wheel and drive it. Something as simple as a text from the owner can go a long way. Any allegation of motor vehicle theft requires quickly consulting a strategic criminal lawyer.

Key Factors of Second-Degree Aggravated Motor Vehicle Theft in Denver

Stealing a car can be charged as either second-degree or first-degree aggravated motor vehicle theft. 2nd degree auto theft is slightly less serious and occurs in Denver, Lakewood, or Aurora if someone:

  • knowingly takes another person’s car, truck, van, or motorcycle,
  • without permission or by threat / deception

Sometimes younger individuals face an auto theft charge after using their parent’s car without permission to go on a date or out with their friends. Another example involves borrowing a person’s car with authorization but then failing or refusing to return it when asked.

Elements of First-Degree Aggravated Motor Vehicle Theft in Denver

Car theft becomes more serious when other behaviors follow taking control of a vehicle. The actions below can escalate the situation to 1st degree auto theft:

  • keeping the vehicle for more than 24 hours,
  • taking the car out of CO for over 12 hours,
  • using the automobile to commit another crime,
  • causing $500+ in damage,
  • injuring a person with the car,
  • attempting to cover or alter the VIN or license plate

It is important to note that stealing a car by threatening someone, deceiving them, or just hopping in and taking off are all forms of aggravated motor vehicle theft in Colorado.

Denver Aggravated Motor Vehicle Theft Lawyer

Stealing a car is almost always a felony in the state of Colorado. The only exception is when the vehicle is valued below $1,000 and the defendant doesn’t have more than one prior conviction. With a sentencing range of 1 – 12 years in prison and possible six-figure fines, hiring a skilled defense attorney is crucial. Perhaps you own the car, you had permission to take the vehicle, or you’ve been falsely accused. Nevertheless, contact our office for a free consultation. We will carefully analyze your vehicle theft situation and recommend next steps, all while prioritizing your best possible outcome.

If you or someone you know is facing a motor vehicle theft charge in Colorado, be smart. Contact the experienced criminal defense team at Sawyer Legal Group, LLC at 303-731-0719. Together, we can protect your future.

Photo by Tyler Nix