Auto Theft


Being charged with any type of motor vehicle theft in Arizona is a very serious offense.  Aside from a mandatory drivers license revocation upon conviction, you also face the possibility of probation, jail time and potential prison sentences.  Additionally, you will be required to pay for any damages caused to the vehicle. Contacting an experienced criminal defense attorney will help you from suffering very severe consequences and can assist in avoiding future problems associated with a conviction.  

Types of Auto Theft Crimes in Arizona

In Arizona, there are essentially three categories of auto theft for which a person can be arrested and prosecuted.  All auto theft crimes must involve a "Means of Transportation."  By law this involves any vehicle and includes a car, truck, motorcycle, golf cart, etc.  

1. Theft of Means of Transportation:  To be prosecuted for Theft of Means of Transportation in Arizona, the state must prove that you intentionally or knowingly:

  • Took someone's vehicle with the intent to permanently deprive them of it
  • Used someone's vehicle that has been entrusted to you beyond the specific purpose of time for which permission was granted
  • Obtained another's vehicle by deceit and intended to permanently deprive the owner of the car
  • Kept a vehicle which was mistakenly delivered to you
  • Used a vehicle that you knew or should have known was stolen

Theft of means of Transportation is a Class 3 felony. Consequently, if you are convicted of this offense, you risk probation, jail time or possible prison between 2 and 8.75 years.

2. Unlawful Use of a Means of Transportation:  As opposed to a Theft of Means of Transportation, Unlawful Use of a Motor Vehicle involves taking someone's car without permission and without intending to keep it.  Both the driver of an automobile and passengers can be charged with this type of an offense, especially if the passengers had reason to know the car may be stolen.  

The driver of an automobile charged with Unlawful Use of a Means of Transportation faces prosecution for a Class 5 felony and a presumptive prison sentence of eighteen months.  Passengers who are charged with this crime risk a Class 6 felony conviction and prison terms between four months and two years.

3. Failure to Return a Rental Car:  Unless the car rental agency is notified and payment arrangements are made, or problems arise making it impossible to return a car on time, you must return a rented automobile within seventy two hours of the expiration of the lease agreement.  If you keep a rental car without permission more than seventy two hours after the rental agreement expires, you can be arrested and prosecuted for a Class 5 felony.

Defenses to a Motor Vehicle Theft Charge

Just because you've been arrested and charged with stealing or being present in a stolen car  doesn't mean you'll be convicted.  There are a number of defenses which can be raised by an experienced criminal defense or auto theft attorney that may lead to a reduction or dismissal of the charges and keep you from having a felony conviction, being on probation or serving jail time.  These possible defenses include:

  • There was no intention to permanently deprive the automobile from its owner
  • You had a good faith belief that the owner permitted or consented to your use of the car
  • A rental vehicle was not returned on time due to mechanical difficulties or a personal emergency such as illness
  • You did not suspect or know that the vehicle you occupied as a passenger had been stolen


Call for an Immediate Consultation: (480) 833-8613

Raymond Kimble has been defending Phoenix, Arizona residents for twenty years and has a long history of success. Those who have been arrested and charged with auto theft offenses can look to Mr. Kimble for the experienced legal defense that they need. Mr. Kimble knows how to prepare a solid defense, challenge the prosecution's evidence and negotiate a reduction or dismissal of the charges. With a seasoned Tempe criminal defense lawyer on your case, you will have your rights protected as your attorney fights to secure a favorable outcome on your behalf. Attorney Raymond Kimble has successfully represented hundreds of individuals throughout Arizona over the last twenty years who have been charged with motor vehicle theft.