Auto Theft Charges in Michigan

There are a number of different criminal charges that may be brought against you involving the theft of a motor vehicle. As with any criminal charge, to convict you, all of the elements of each of the offenses must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

Auto-theft charges can range from simply driving away an automobile without the owner’s permission to carjacking. Often times, auto theft cases will hinge on what can be proven about the defendant’s knowledge or intent. The following are some of the more common charges that defendants represented by top criminal attorney Chris Kessel.

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Receiving & Concealing Stolen Property (RCSP-MV)

RCSP-MV is a relatively simple charge on its face, but can become very complicated, very quickly. To be found guilty, the prosecutor must prove that a defendant:


Did buy, receive, possess, conceal, or aid in the concealment of stolen, embezzled, or converted money, goods or property.

Point Two

Did know or have reason to know that the money, goods, or property is stolen, embezzled of converted.

What makes these cases potentially difficult is proving knowledge. Often times a defendant will be found in possession of a motor vehicle with a “punched ignition” (meaning damage has been done to the ignition and some object other than a key has been used to turn the ignition and start the vehicle), which gives a strong indication that the vehicle may have been stolen. However, our theft defense lawyers routinely see cases in which a defendant is charged with RCSP-MV simply because they are driving a vehicle, with the keys in the ignition, that happens to be stolen. Often the defendant will have borrowed the vehicle from someone else who stole it, or knew it was stolen but didn’t tell the defendant. Because charges of Receiving and Concealing Stolen Property – Motor Vehicle can carry up to five years in prison and a fine of $10,000, hiring the best criminal defense attorneys possible is critical to a successful outcome to your case.

Unlawfully Driving Away an Automobile (UDAA)

UDAA is another charge that appears simple but also can become complicated quickly. If convicted, you face up to 5 years in prison. To support this type of theft conviction, the prosecutor must prove that a defendant:


Did willfully and without authority (without the owners permission).

Point Two

Take possession of and drive away an automobile.

Just as RCSP-MV, a UDAA case revolves around what the defendant knows. There are many instances where someone will allow someone to drive their vehicle, but later become angry with the driver and report the vehicle stolen and claim that they never gave the driver permission to drive the vehicle. In other cases a person will be found driving a vehicle with the permission of someone they believed to be the driver, only later to find out that person was not really the lawful owner. Should a defendant be found guilty.

Larceny From A Motor Vehicle

Larceny From A Motor Vehicle is another crime commonly charged auto-theft crime in State of Michigan. If convicted, you face up to 5 years in prison and a $10,000 fine, or both. To be convicted of Larceny From A Motor Vehicle the prosecutor must prove that:


The defendant unlawfully took something.


The defendant unlawfully took something — from a vehicle.


With the intent to keep it and/or permanently deprive the owner.

In many of these cases the item taken could be could something attached to the vehicle, such as: a radio, clock, converter, tire, air bag, wheel, telephone, or computer. Anything taken from inside the vehicle counts as larceny.


Another form of armed robbery, carjacking is commonly referred to as a “capital” offense because of the extremely harsh consequences associated with conviction. A defendant who is found guilty of this type of theft crime could be imprisoned for any number of years, even for life. To be convicted of carjacking, the prosecutor must show that:


The defendant used force/violence or the threat of force/violence.


Against the driver, passenger, or other person in lawful possession of a motor vehicle.


During the commission of a larceny of a motor vehicle.

A carjacking case will involve intense investigation and cross examination of the complainant surrounding issues of identification, the actions of the alleged perpetrator, the actions of the complainant, and well as the actions of the police who are investigating the case. Because of the difficult and complex nature of carjacking cases, it requires an experienced and skilled theft defense attorney to represent you—especially when the consequences of conviction are so severe.

Our Approach To Auto Theft Charges

When a client retains Chris Kessel he immediately begins to develop a comprehensive strategy for success. Sometimes success means convincing the prosecutor to dismiss the charges completely or have them greatly reduced. Other times it means a motion to suppress evidence to have the case dismissed by a judge, or fully preparing for trial and securing a not guilty verdict. Each case and set of facts are different. Contact us at Chris Kessel Law today and see what success can mean for you.

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