If you have been charged with motor vehicle theft in Mississippi, here’s what you need to know.
Motor vehicle theft, sometimes called auto theft, is a felony crime under Mississippi Code Section 97-17-42. In order to convict you of motor vehicle theft, the State must prove to the jury that you:
(1) Wilfully and without authority;
(2) Took possession of a motor vehicle;
(3) With the intent to either permanently or temporarily deprive the owner of possession or ownership of the motor vehicle.
Mississippi Code Section 97-17-42. The statute also states that anyone who knowingly “aids and abets” another person in motor vehicle theft is also guilty of this crime. If you are convicted of motor vehicle theft in Mississippi, you can be sentenced to ten (10) years in prison. If the motor vehicle was damaged as a result of the theft, you can also be ordered to pay the owner for these damages.
If you are convicted of a second or subsequent offense of motor vehicle theft, you face fifteen (15) years in prison and a $10,000.00 fine.
The Mississippi motor vehicle theft law is significantly different from other laws dealing with larceny and theft. The biggest differences are (1) the State does not have to prove the value of the vehicle, and (2) the State does not have to prove that you intended to permanently take the car away from the owner. Even a temporary taking of a motor vehicle violates the Mississippi motor vehicle theft law.
Despite these differences, you still may have defenses if you are arrested for motor vehicle theft in Mississippi. These defenses may include:
(a) Whether the State can prove you ever actually possessed the vehicle;
(b) Whether you had the consent of the owner or some other person with authority to possess the automobile; and
(c) Whether your intent was to deprive the owner of the use of the vehicle, or did you have some other intent.
There may be other defenses to this charge, depending upon the specific facts of your case.
As a Mississippi criminal defense lawyer, I can tell you the one most important thing you need to know if you’ve been arrested for motor vehicle theft: keep your mouth shut. Exercise your right to remain silent, and make no statements to the police or anyone else.
The second most important thing you need to know is to hire a Mississippi criminal defense lawyer immediately. Your choice of attorney can mean the difference between freedom and prison. Curt Crowley is an experienced Jackson, MS criminal defense attorney. Please contact us at 601.944.1984 for a free consultation.