Taking a Motor Vehicle Without Permission

What is Taking a Motor Vehicle Without Permission?

According to Washington State law, taking a motor vehicle without permission is a felony. Depending on the circumstances, a person may be charged with either: (1) taking a motor vehicle without permission in the first degree or (2) taking a motor vehicle without permission in the second degree.

Taking a Motor Vehicle Without Permission in the First Degree:

According to RCW §9A.56.070, a person has committed the offense of taking a motor vehicle without permission in the first degree if he, without the permission of the owner, intentionally takes or drives away an automobile or motor vehicle AND he either:

  1. Alters the motor vehicle for the purpose of changing its appearance or identification, including obscuring, removing, or changing the serial number or vehicle identification number;
  2. Removes (or helps remove) parts of the vehicle for the purpose of selling them;
  3. Exports, or attempts to export, the vehicle across a state or national border for profit;
  4. Intends to sell the motor vehicle; or
  5. Engages in a conspiracy for the purpose of stealing motor vehicles for sale to others for profit, or engages in a conspiracy and has solicited a juvenile to participate in the theft of a motor vehicle.

Penalties for Taking a Motor Vehicle Without Permission in the First Degree in Washington:

Taking a motor vehicle without permission in the first degree is a class B felony, which RCW §9A.20.021 defines as punishable by a maximum sentence of ten years in prison, a maximum fine of $20,000, or both.

Taking a Motor Vehicle Without Permission in the Second Degree:

According to RCW §9A.56.075, a person has committed the offense of taking a motor vehicle without permission in the second degree if he:

  1. Without the permission of the owner, intentionally takes or drives away an automobile or motor vehicle, or
  2. Voluntarily rides in the automobile or motor vehicle knowing that it was unlawfully taken.

Penalties for Taking a Motor Vehicle Without Permission in the Second Degree in Washington:

Taking a motor vehicle without permission in the second degree is a class C felony, which RCW §9A.20.021 defines as punishable by a maximum sentence of five years in prison, a maximum fine of $10,000, or both.

Defending a Taking a Motor Vehicle Without Permission Charge:

If you have been charged with taking a motor vehicle in the first degree, then your defense strategy might involve proving that you took the vehicle lawfully or unintentionally, or that you did not take part in any of the five activities required for a first degree charge. If you have been charged with taking a motor vehicle in the second degree, then your defense strategy might involve proving that you took the vehicle lawfully or unintentionally, or that you rode in the vehicle without knowing that it was taken unlawfully. You should enlist in the help of a skilled criminal defense attorney to best determine your defense strategy.