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Motor Vehicle Theft

Motor Vehicle Theft2021-11-22T16:20:58-05:00

Motor Vehicle Theft Defense Attorneys in Chattanooga

Any type of vehicle-related theft crime is treated harshly in Tennessee – and some may be prosecuted at the federal level if state borders are crossed in the vehicle.

A felony conviction for auto theft can lead to a lengthy prison sentence, a large fine, and a permanent criminal record that may have a long-term impact on your future.

It is essential if you are facing auto theft charges to understand your rights and to seek legal assistance in protecting them.

The criminal defense lawyers at Houston & Alexander in Chattanooga can help you defend the charge and minimize the consequences of your actions.

Penalties for auto theft in Tennessee

The auto theft laws are outlined in the Tennessee Code §§ 39-14-103, -105, 40-35-111, and 55-5-203 (2020).

Auto theft can be prosecuted as either a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the value of the stolen property. Following is a brief outline of the potential penalties to expect:

Carjacking theft crimes

Some auto theft crimes also involve carjacking. This is when a car is taken away from a driver or a passenger by the use of:

  • Force or intimidation, or
  • A deadly weapon

For instance, using a gun to threaten a driver to relinquish the keys of the car to you would generally lead to a charge of carjacking.

The use of threat or force makes it a considerably more serious offense than most simple auto thefts. Accordingly, carjacking is charged as a Class B felony that can lead to eight to 30 years in prison and a $25,000 fine.

Joyriding

Joyriding is another common offense connected to auto theft. It is handled in this section of the Tennessee Code:

“A person commits a Class A misdemeanor who takes another’s automobile, airplane, motorcycle, bicycle, boat or other vehicle without the consent of the owner and the person does not have the intent to deprive the owner thereof.”

So, joyriding is taking another person’s vehicle without permission, even if you are not planning to hold on to it permanently and fully intend to return it.

If the crime of theft cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, a charge of joyriding may be filed. However, it should be noted that this can still lead to jail time as a Class A misdemeanor.

What are possible defenses to car theft crimes in Tennessee?

If you are arrested and charged for auto theft, carjacking or joyriding in Tennessee, discussing your situation with an experienced auto theft lawyer should be a priority.

Being charged and being convicted are very different. An experienced lawyer will listen to your version of events, examine the evidence against you, and inform you of your legal rights and options.

Whether you made a rash error of judgement, events were misinterpreted or the police made errors in the process while investigating or charging you, there is always a chance that the evidence against you is incomplete, the case is dismissed or you are acquitted at trial.

Even if you are convicted, a good lawyer can downgrade the impact that a conviction has on your future.

Some possible defenses to auto theft crimes in Tennessee include the following:

  • Permission: The defendant believed that permission had been granted to use the vehicle.
  • No intent to steal: the defendant intended to return the vehicle, meaning that the theft charge is inappropriate.
  • Lower vehicle value: the real value of the stolen vehicle is less than the prosecution claims (meaning that a lower-level charge should apply).
  • Violation of constitutional rights: the police failed to observe the defendant’s constitutional right to be free from illegal searches and seizures or to incriminate themselves.

The prosecution carries a high burden in these cases and must prove the auto theft charge beyond a reasonable doubt. Sometimes, the intervention of our criminal defense lawyers can lead to evidence being suppressed and case dismissal or downgrading of the crime.

If that is not possible, we will fight to protect your rights from the moment you are charged until the criminal justice system has concluded your case.

Speak With One Of Our Lawyers To Learn More

A criminal conviction in Tennessee can affect your life forever. The experienced auto theft attorneys at Houston & Alexander, PLLC will protect your rights and freedoms and minimize the impact on your future.

Please call our Chattanooga-based law office at 423-267-6715 or contact us online to arrange an initial consultation.

auto theft lawyers in Chattanooga Tennessee

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OUR PRACTICE AREAS

Criminal Defense

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Federal Charges

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DWI / DUI

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Drug Charges

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Personal Injury

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Nursing Home Abuse

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Motorcycle Accidents

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Car Accidents

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TESTIMONIALS

The moment finally came when I saw Jay walk down the stairs in the court room, he flashed me a thumbs up and I knew... I knew I won. If you need a lawyer do not hesitate to call Houston & Alexander. There is no one that will represent you better anywhere in Chattanooga. I wholeheartedly give them five stars. - Antonio
I had hired another law firm and they were getting nowhere with my case. I was charged with multiple offense DUIs and other charges. I was not sure where to turn and called Houston and Alexander. Johnny Houston went the EXTRA MILE for me! The other law firm had negotiated a sentence that may have made me lose my house, my kids...everything. Johnny was not only able to get my charges reduced but also the sentence net result was I was able to keep my family together. -Colleen
We've been clients of Houston & Alexander for three years, with Bret Alexander representing us during that time. I can't speak highly enough of his integrity, professionalism, and his dedication to our legal needs. We are so grateful for his guidance and effectiveness through such a difficult time. He's an attorney you can trust and depend on to do the right thing. We are sincerely so grateful. Thank You! - Trish
I am a Desert Storm veteran and found myself in need of legal counsel. Everyone from the receptionist to the attorney himself treated me with the utmost respect and dignity. I found them to be knowledgeable and most helpful. I would recommend Houston and Alexander for all your legal needs. Thank you for all of your help. - C Pugh
I won't go into specifics because they are very embarrassing for my family. But if you have a daughter who has been criminally charged with a serious charge, Johnny Houston should be your go-to gentleman. Because of his hard work, and diligence in our case, we can once again hold our heads High and consider this a lesson learned. Thank you Johnny Houston from the bottom of our hearts! -Karen A.
My son made a couple of mistakes and was faced with having a criminal record. Mr. Houston stepped in and provided us with excellent representation. My son will NOT have a record now and is looking forward to the future. I also can't say enough about the staff at Houston & Alexander. Always responsive and informative and really went the extra mile. I cannot recommend them enough! - Alice
Due the stress of this pandemic and the loss of employment, my wife and I got into an argument and I ended up getting arrested and charged with domestic violence. I could not go home, could not have any contact with my wife and had no place to live. An elected official/friend referred me to Johnny Houston and his law firm. Due to Johnny's efforts, not only did we get into court quickly, but all charges were dismissed. We are back together now and I am getting this expunged. Thank you, Johnny! - Client
I had too much to drink one night and backed into another car. I was charged with second offense DUI and felony reckless endangerment. I was at a real low point in my life and my husband had recently passed away. Johnny was able to get the felonies dismissed and I pled guilty to a first offense. Instead of facing significant jail time and a felony, I did a few days in jail and wore an alcohol monitor. Johnny was able to humanize me with the DA and I was able to get my life back on track again. Great law firm! You would be crazy to go anywhere else. - Karen M.
I am a college student. I was involved in a wreck and was charged with DUI and leaving the scene. I thought I was ok to drive but my blood result said otherwise. A DUI conviction would have really hurt my chances of getting a good job. Johnny and Bret told me I had a difficult case and the only guarantee they gave was that they would work hard for me. They NEVER gave up on my case and ultimately persuaded the arresting officer and the DA to reduce the charge. If YOU need help on a DUI or any other case, call them! These men are not only hard working but kind. - Kate
I had hired another law firm and they were getting nowhere with my case. I was charged with multiple offense DUI and other charges. Johnny Houston went the EXTRA MILE for me! The other law firm had negotiated a sentence that may have made me lose my house, my kids...everything. Johnny was not only able to get my charges reduced but also the sentence. I kept my house and my family intact! I have turned my life around and things are great! Johnny did not forget about me once the case was over, either. I needed some additional help with my license and Johnny jumped right on it. - Colleen
Johnny and Bret took my case and treated me like a person, not a number. I was looking at a long prison sentence (10+ years). These guys stepped in, calmed me down, and told me that they were going to be there for me. When you first walk in their office, you have that at home feeling. With Mrs. Wanda, a very welcoming atmosphere. They really treat you like family here. I would recommend Mr. Houston and Mr. Alexander to anyone who needs their service. You will not go wrong with these guys. THEY KNOW THE LAW!!!! - WARDELL
We were from out of town and had no friends or family in the area. Things got out of control and the next morning we were arrested and charged with Felonies. In my opinion, we were over charged. We called Johny and he agreed to meet with us right away. Johnny was attentive and listened. Facing possible jail time and the loss of my husband,s job we were terrified. Johnny literally rescued us! He took the lead, met with the DA and the alleged victim, and really smoothed things over. Johnny was confident and appeared to get along well with the Prosecutors and Judges. We were very fortunate to find Johnny. - Tana

TESTIMONIALS

The moment finally came when I saw Jay walk down the stairs in the court room, he flashed me a thumbs up and I knew... I knew I won. If you need a lawyer do not hesitate to call Houston & Alexander. There is no one that will represent you better anywhere in Chattanooga. I wholeheartedly give them five stars. - Antonio
I had hired another law firm and they were getting nowhere with my case. I was charged with multiple offense DUIs and other charges. I was not sure where to turn and called Houston and Alexander. Johnny Houston went the EXTRA MILE for me! The other law firm had negotiated a sentence that may have made me lose my house, my kids...everything. Johnny was not only able to get my charges reduced but also the sentence net result was I was able to keep my family together. -Colleen
We've been clients of Houston & Alexander for three years, with Bret Alexander representing us during that time. I can't speak highly enough of his integrity, professionalism, and his dedication to our legal needs. We are so grateful for his guidance and effectiveness through such a difficult time. He's an attorney you can trust and depend on to do the right thing. We are sincerely so grateful. Thank You! - Trish
I am a Desert Storm veteran and found myself in need of legal counsel. Everyone from the receptionist to the attorney himself treated me with the utmost respect and dignity. I found them to be knowledgeable and most helpful. I would recommend Houston and Alexander for all your legal needs. Thank you for all of your help. - C Pugh
I won't go into specifics because they are very embarrassing for my family. But if you have a daughter who has been criminally charged with a serious charge, Johnny Houston should be your go-to gentleman. Because of his hard work, and diligence in our case, we can once again hold our heads High and consider this a lesson learned. Thank you Johnny Houston from the bottom of our hearts! -Karen A.
My son made a couple of mistakes and was faced with having a criminal record. Mr. Houston stepped in and provided us with excellent representation. My son will NOT have a record now and is looking forward to the future. I also can't say enough about the staff at Houston & Alexander. Always responsive and informative and really went the extra mile. I cannot recommend them enough! - Alice
Due the stress of this pandemic and the loss of employment, my wife and I got into an argument and I ended up getting arrested and charged with domestic violence. I could not go home, could not have any contact with my wife and had no place to live. An elected official/friend referred me to Johnny Houston and his law firm. Due to Johnny's efforts, not only did we get into court quickly, but all charges were dismissed. We are back together now and I am getting this expunged. Thank you, Johnny! - Client
I had too much to drink one night and backed into another car. I was charged with second offense DUI and felony reckless endangerment. I was at a real low point in my life and my husband had recently passed away. Johnny was able to get the felonies dismissed and I pled guilty to a first offense. Instead of facing significant jail time and a felony, I did a few days in jail and wore an alcohol monitor. Johnny was able to humanize me with the DA and I was able to get my life back on track again. Great law firm! You would be crazy to go anywhere else. - Karen M.
I am a college student. I was involved in a wreck and was charged with DUI and leaving the scene. I thought I was ok to drive but my blood result said otherwise. A DUI conviction would have really hurt my chances of getting a good job. Johnny and Bret told me I had a difficult case and the only guarantee they gave was that they would work hard for me. They NEVER gave up on my case and ultimately persuaded the arresting officer and the DA to reduce the charge. If YOU need help on a DUI or any other case, call them! These men are not only hard working but kind. - Kate
I had hired another law firm and they were getting nowhere with my case. I was charged with multiple offense DUI and other charges. Johnny Houston went the EXTRA MILE for me! The other law firm had negotiated a sentence that may have made me lose my house, my kids...everything. Johnny was not only able to get my charges reduced but also the sentence. I kept my house and my family intact! I have turned my life around and things are great! Johnny did not forget about me once the case was over, either. I needed some additional help with my license and Johnny jumped right on it. - Colleen
Johnny and Bret took my case and treated me like a person, not a number. I was looking at a long prison sentence (10+ years). These guys stepped in, calmed me down, and told me that they were going to be there for me. When you first walk in their office, you have that at home feeling. With Mrs. Wanda, a very welcoming atmosphere. They really treat you like family here. I would recommend Mr. Houston and Mr. Alexander to anyone who needs their service. You will not go wrong with these guys. THEY KNOW THE LAW!!!! - WARDELL
We were from out of town and had no friends or family in the area. Things got out of control and the next morning we were arrested and charged with Felonies. In my opinion, we were over charged. We called Johny and he agreed to meet with us right away. Johnny was attentive and listened. Facing possible jail time and the loss of my husband,s job we were terrified. Johnny literally rescued us! He took the lead, met with the DA and the alleged victim, and really smoothed things over. Johnny was confident and appeared to get along well with the Prosecutors and Judges. We were very fortunate to find Johnny. - Tana

View our reviews online.

View our reviews online.

ATTORNEY PROFILES

ATTORNEY PROFILES

JOHNNY D. HOUSTON

BRET ALEXANDER

AMANDA BRANAM DUNN

JAY UNDERWOOD

CONSULT WITH OUR LEGAL TEAM

Please contact us online for a free consultation.

CONSULT OUR LEGAL TEAM

Please contact us online for a free consultation.
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