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What to Know About 1st Degree Motor Vehicle Theft Charges

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Car theft is a serious offense that can have severe legal and personal consequences for those convicted of the crime. In Washington, first-degree motor vehicle theft is the most serious category of car theft, and those charged with this crime face potentially harsh penalties.

If you are facing first-degree motor vehicle theft charges in Washington, it is essential to understand the nature of the offense, the potential consequences, and what to do if you are arrested. Working with a criminal defense attorney is imperative in these situations; a lawyer will work tirelessly to protect your legal rights and fight for the best possible outcome on your behalf.

What Is First-Degree Motor Vehicle Theft in Washington?

First-degree motor vehicle theft is the most serious type of car theft in Washington and carries equally hefty penalties. According to the Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 9A.56.070,  a person commits first-degree motor vehicle theft when he or she intentionally takes or drives away someone else’s car without the owner’s permission and:

  • Intend to sell the motor vehicle
  • Alter the motor vehicle to change its appearance, license plate, serial number, or any other identifying features
  • Export or attempt to export the vehicle across state lines or out of the United States with the intention to sell it
  • Remove or help remove parts from the motor vehicle for the purpose of selling them

Potential Penalties for First-Degree Motor Vehicle Theft

Under Washington law, first-degree motor vehicle theft is classified as a class B felony. This crime is punishable by up to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $20,000. These consequences can be life-altering, affecting your freedom, finances, and personal relationships. 

If you are facing penalties for first-degree motor vehicle theft, it can feel incredibly daunting. However, there are ways that you can defend yourself. A criminal defense attorney can work with you to negotiate with prosecutors and build a compelling strategy to reduce these penalties. In some cases, your attorney can even request the court to drop the charges altogether.

What to Do If You Are Arrested for Car Theft in Washington

If you are arrested for car theft in Washington, it is crucial to remember a few important steps. First, comply with the police and remain calm. Second, exercise your right to remain silent and not answer any questions without a lawyer present. Anything you say to the police can be used against you in court, so it’s essential to contact a lawyer as soon as possible. If any investigators ask any questions, respond with, “I want to speak to my attorney.”

Contact a Washington Criminal Defense Lawyer

Car theft is a serious crime that can result in severe consequences for those convicted of the offense. If you are facing first-degree motor vehicle theft charges in Washington, it is crucial to understand the penalties that may be levied against you and hire a lawyer who can advocate for your best possible outcome.

By working with a criminal defense attorney, you can protect your rights and your future and fight the charges against you. As soon as possible following your arrest, contact a Tacoma theft attorney to discuss your legal options and start building a strategy for your case.

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