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What Are the Penalties for Motor Vehicle Theft in Tennessee?

 Posted on February 04,2021 in Criminal Defense

Union County auto theft charges lawyerMotor vehicle theft is a serious crime in Tennessee, and it can involve more than just stealing a car. ATVs, motorcycles, and snowmobiles all fall under the category of motorized vehicles. A conviction for this type of charge can carry serious punishments, such as jail time, fines, and probation. In addition, it will appear on a person’s criminal record, which can directly impact his or her ability to secure employment or housing. 

In some cases, an individual may face these types of charges after unknowingly purchasing a stolen vehicle. For example, a car may be bought through a third party who is trying to deceive the buyer. The prosecution has the burden of proving intent, or that a person knowingly purchased a stolen vehicle. Regardless of the details, all Tennessee drivers should understand the laws and what constitutes vehicle theft in case they ever find themselves unintentionally involved in a crime. 

Different Types of Auto Theft 

Auto theft charges can vary depending on the circumstances. “Joyriding” refers to taking someone else’s vehicle for a ride without permission but not intending to keep or sell it. This act can result in Class A misdemeanor charges. Carjacking, however, is a more serious offense, since it involves using force against a person to take a vehicle. This can be charged as a Class B felony.    

As in other states, the penalties for theft in Tennessee typically depend on the value of the stolen property, as shown below:

  • Up to $500: Class A misdemeanor, up to 11 months in jail, fines up to $2,500.

  • $500 - $1000: Class E felony, one to six years in jail, fines up to $3,000.

  • $1,000 - $10,000: Class D felony, 2-12 years in jail, fines up to $5,000.

  • $10,000 - $60,000: Class C felony, 3-15 years in jail, fines up to $10,000.

  • $60,000 - $250,000: Class B felony, 8-30 years in jail, fines up to $25,000.

Contact a Knox County Criminal Defense Lawyer for Help

Any type of theft charges can result in serious criminal consequences. If you or someone you know have been accused of carjacking or motor vehicle theft in Tennessee, you need quality legal representation to avoid a conviction. A skilled Knoxville, TN criminal defense attorney can help protect your rights. Jeffrey Coller, Knoxville Criminal Defense Attorney has proven success defending his clients and proving their innocence. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 865-281-1000.


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