Stealing a car is one thing and possession of a stolen car is another, but both are crimes in Oklahoma City. Being caught in possession of a stolen vehicle in Oklahoma can mean prison time. If you are facing charges for being in possession of a stolen vehicle, here is what you need to know about the crime and how it is handled in Oklahoma.
Possession Of A Stolen Vehicle In Oklahoma City Defined
In Oklahoma, being in possession of a stolen vehicle is legally defined as receiving, possessing, concealing, selling, or disposing of a vehicle that you know was stolen or was taken under other circumstances that constitute a crime. It is a felony in Oklahoma City. Okla. Stat. tit. 47 § 4-103
If you knowingly have a stolen car in your possession, hide that car, or try to sell it or otherwise junk it, you could be convicted of the crime. The possession must be knowing.
Elements Of The Crime
Like all crimes, this one has a number of elements that a prosecutor must prove in order to secure a conviction. If any of the elements remains unproven beyond a reasonable doubt, the defendant is acquitted of that particular crime although the defendant may be charged with another crime. Here are the elements:
- A person who is not entitled to possession of a vehicle
- received, possessed, concealed, or disposed of the vehicle
- knowing that it was stolen or knowing that it was converted under circumstances constituting a crime.
Defenses Against A Charge Of Possession Of A Stolen Vehicle In Oklahoma
Defenses are built on facts that tend to disprove elements. Thus, even small facts may be helpful in building a defense. A qualified Oklahoma City attorney is in the best position to help you craft a solid defense.
You must not be entitled to possession. That means the car belongs to someone else and there is no permission, either express or implied, for the defendant to be in possession of the car. If the defendant has permission to be in possession of the car, then this element is not met.
Here is an example of what that might look like. A husband and wife co-own a car. The husband goes out of town and the car is stolen.
His wife is also a fence for stolen goods and someone contacts her to take possession of the car and sell it. She takes the car — but since she owns the car, the first element cannot be met.
The prosecutor must also show that the person knew the vehicle was stolen or converted. If there is no knowledge or the prosecution cannot prove this element, the defendant should be acquitted.
Here is another example. Your friend leaves a car with you at your house, tells you it is his car, and hands you the keys. The police come by later and you find out that the car was stolen.
However, your friend made no indication that the car was stolen. Thus, knowledge requirement is most likely not met.
The crime is punishable by up to two years in prison, a fine of up to $1,000, or both. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 9
You Could Also Be Charged With Larceny
In Oklahoma, larceny is defined as taking another’s personal property through fraud or stealth with the intent to deprive. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1701
Let’s say your friend leaves a Tesla with you saying it is his. However, your friend works as a bus boy in a coffee shop and you know he can’t afford a Tesla. This probably triggers a duty to inquire about the circumstances under which your friend came into possession of the car.
In Oklahoma, if you buy, receive, conceal, or withhold stolen property or aid another in doing so and fail to make a reasonable inquiry regarding their legal right to that property, you will be presumed to have obtained the property knowing that it was stolen. This presumption is rebuttable, but it can also be used by the prosecution to impute liability. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1713
Therefore, if a reasonable person would make an inquiry, so should you.
If the value of the property stolen is $1,000 or more, you could be convicted of a felony punishable by up to five years in prison or up to a year in the county jail in addition to fines.
If the value of the vehicle stolen is less than $1,000, the crime is considered a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $500, up to six months in jail, or both.
Get the help you need today. We are here when you need help the most.
Consultation: Oklahoma City Criminal Defense Attorney
Our lawyer is well positioned to advise you accordingly, as he has the necessary training and experience. He has the wit and tenacity to match the skill of the Oklahoma City prosecutors.
For a consultation with an Oklahoma criminal defense attorney, call Wirth Law Office – Oklahoma City at 405-888-5400.
You can also submit an email question from the top right corner of this page. We will respond to all questions as soon as possible.