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Stealing Cars in Oklahoma

Posted by E. W. Childers | Oct 07, 2019 | 0 Comments

There are several statutes that prohibit car theft and they are used under different circumstances. 

Larceny of a Motor Vehicle.  The most obvious one is 21 O.S. §1720 and it reads, in full, as follows:

Any person in this state who shall steal an aircraft, automobile or other automotive driven vehicle, construction equipment or farm equipment, shall be guilty of a felony, and upon conviction shall be punished by confinement in the State Penitentiary for a term of not less than three (3) years, nor more than twenty (20) years or by a fine in an amount that is equal to three times the value of the property that was stolen but not more than Five Hundred Thousand Dollars ($500,000.00) or by both such fine and imprisonment and shall be ordered to pay restitution pursuant to Section 991f of Title 22 of the Oklahoma Statutes.

This statute applies to actually stealing a vehicle.  The State does not have to find the defendant in possession of the vehicle in order to charge them with stealing it.  A conviction in such a case (where the vehicle is not found with the defendant) might occur from security videos or co-defendants talking.

Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle.  The next statute that comes up in the context of a stolen vehicle is 47 O.S. §4-102 and it reads, in full, as follows:

A person not entitled to possession of a vehicle or implement of husbandry who, without the consent of the owner and with intent to deprive the owner, temporarily or otherwise, of the vehicle or implement of husbandry or its possession, takes, uses or drives the vehicle or implement of husbandry shall be guilty of a felony.

This statute generally applies when the State can't prove that the defendant actually stole the vehicle but is found taking, using, or driving the vehicle.  I've also seen it used in cases where a bailee (somebody who is given the vehicle for a limited purpose, such as a repair or window tinting, etc.) uses the vehicle for other purposes, for example going to the strip club.  For a first offense this is punishable by up to 2 years in prison and up to a $1000 in fines in addition to any restitution that the Court is found to be owed to the owner of the vehicle.

Possession of a Stolen Motor Vehicle.  Another statute that come up less frequently is 47 O.S. §4-103.  It reads as follows:

A person not entitled to the possession of a vehicle or implement of husbandry who receives, possesses, conceals, sells, or disposes of it, knowing the vehicle or implement of husbandry to be stolen or converted under circumstances constituting a crime, shall be guilty of a felony.

The statute generally applies when the defendant is found in possession of a stolen vehicle, but nobody caught the defendant stealing it or otherwise using it.  For a first offense this is punishable by up to 2 years in prison and up to a $1000 in fines in addition to any restitution that the Court is found to be owed to the owner of the vehicle.

There are also misdemeanor statutes like Joy Riding. The variety of statutes available allow for a lot of prosecutorial flexibility and sometimes as part of negotiations one of the lesser charges could be substituted for Larceny of a Vehicle.

About the Author

E. W. Childers

I am a husband, father, Army veteran, and attorney here in Norman, Oklahoma. I've been practicing law throughout Central Oklahoma since 2006 shortly after I graduated from the OU College of Law. In my practice I have emphasized Family Law, Criminal Defense, and Personal Injury. I like to help peo...

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