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Is Joyriding a Crime in Tennessee?

 Posted on August 30,2023 in Criminal Defense

Untitled---2023-08-30T105805.543.jpgJoyriding, a term commonly used to describe unauthorized use of a vehicle, is a prevalent issue that raises questions about its legal implications. In the state of Tennessee, joyriding is considered a property crime, and individuals engaging in this activity may face serious legal consequences. Today, we will provide an overview of joyriding as a crime in Tennessee, exploring the relevant laws, potential penalties, and the importance of seeking legal counsel when faced with such charges. 

Understanding What Constitutes Joyriding 

Joyriding involves taking or operating another person’s vehicle without their permission, often with the intention of temporary use for personal enjoyment or excitement. It is important to note that intent plays a crucial role in determining whether joyriding constitutes a criminal offense or something else. If the intent is to deprive the owner permanently, the charges may escalate from joyriding to motor vehicle theft. 

Joyriding Laws in Tennessee

In Tennessee, joyriding falls under the offense of “Unauthorized Use of Automobiles and Other Vehicles.” According to this law, it is illegal for any person to knowingly operate or use a vehicle without the consent of the owner, regardless of whether the vehicle was taken temporarily or with the intention of returning it later. 

Penalties for Joyriding 

The penalties for joyriding in Tennessee can vary depending on the circumstances and the value of the vehicle involved. Generally, joyriding is classified as a Class A misdemeanor, which can carry a jail sentence of up to 11 months and 29 days. Moreover, it can also levy a $2,500 fine. 

Four Potential Defenses for Joyriding 

  1. Consent from the owner – If you had the permission of the owner to use the vehicle, either explicitly or indirectly, it could be argued that your actions did not constitute joyriding.

  2. Necessity – In some cases, the defense of necessity may apply if you can demonstrate that you had no reasonable alternative but to use the vehicle to prevent harm or danger.

  3. Entrapment – If you were coerced or induced by law enforcement or another party to commit joyriding, the defense of entrapment may be applicable. 

  4. Mistaken identity – If evidence suggests that you were wrongly identified as the person responsible for joyriding, presenting an alibi or witness testimony that can support this assertion will be essential to pursue this line of defense. 

Contact a Knox County Criminal Defense Lawyer 

To fight the charges you face, contact the experienced Blount County criminal defense attorneys with Jeffrey Coller, Knoxville Criminal Defense Attorney. Call 865-281-1000 for a free consultation. 


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