Vehicle Theft

Vehicle theft is a serious crime in Michigan, and without the right attorney, you may face consequences that will have a lasting effect on your personal and professional life. There are several crimes related to vehicle theft, and depending on the circumstances, you may face a felony or misdemeanor, which may result in jail time, fines, and a permanent criminal record. Vehicle theft charges are very fact dependent, and you need an attorney like me who understands what to look for and how to defend your case. If you are accused or charged with a vehicle theft crime, contact me and ZAYID LAW today to start building your winning defense strategy.


There are three primary offenses related to vehicle theft: carjacking, auto theft, and joyriding. While they vary in degrees of punishment, the consequences of any vehicle theft crime are serious. It is important to arm yourself with the knowledge necessary to fight the charges.


Carjacking occurs when a person uses force, violence, threats of force or violence, or fear against any operator, passenger, or person in lawful possession of a motor vehicle during the theft of that motor vehicle. It is important to note that this charge does not require that the defendant use a weapon. MPC 750.529a.

Broken down into three elements:

  1. Force or a threat of force (NOTE: Does NOT require a weapon)
  2. In the course of committing a larceny (theft) of a motor vehicle.
  3. Victim must be the operator, passenger, person in lawful possession, or person attempting to recover possession of a motor vehicle.

Carjacking Charge and Kidnapping in Michigan: carjacking charges become even more serious if you drive away with a person(s) still in the vehicle. Under Michigan law, you may be charged with kidnapping on top of the carjacking charges. Kidnapping conviction could result in a felony conviction and a penalty of up to life imprisonment along with fines of up to $50,000. MPC 750.349.

Vehicle Theft

Taking possession of and willfully driving away a motor vehicle without permission. This is a step down from carjacking because it does not involve the use of force against occupants of the vehicle, but it still carries serious penalties. MPC 750.413.


Taking or using without authority any motor vehicle without intent to steal the same. Joyriding is a lesser offense than carjacking or vehicle theft, but it is still a misdemeanor that carries serious consequences. MPC 750.414.

Buying, Possessing, or Concealing Stolen Vehicle:

If a person buys, receives, conceals, or aids in the concealment of a stolen motor vehicle with knowledge that the vehicle is stolen, embezzled, or converted.

In most cases, the specific charge is heavily dependent upon the unique circumstances of the case. For instance, a person that steals a vehicle with no occupants may still be charged with carjacking if the owner is chasing down the vehicle. Another example is if a person intends to temporarily use a vehicle but abandons it, they may be charged with auto theft. If you are charged with a crime involving a vehicle, it is critical to contact me as early in the case a possible to preserve your rights and build a winning defense that takes into account the mitigating factors of your innocence.


Carjacking: Felony

  • Up to life in prison

Auto Theft: Felony

  • Up to five years in prison

Joyriding: High Misdemeanor

  • Up to two years in prison
  • Fines up to $1,500
  • First Offense Exception: ZAYID LAW has had success reducing first time joyriding offenders to a maximum of 3 months in prison or a fine of not more than $500.00.

Buying, Possessing, Concealing Stolen Vehicle: Felony

  • Vehicles worth $0-20,000:
    • Up to five years in prison
    • Fine of either $10,000 or three times the value of the vehicle, whichever is greater.
  • Vehicles worth $20,000 and up
    • Up to ten years in prison
    • Fines up to $15,000 or three times the value of the property received, whichever is greater.

ZAYID LAW’S Strategy

Vehicle theft charges, like most theft charges, are tricky because there is a lot of room for discretion. That being said, I have experience using this “gray area” to mitigate a defendant’s culpability. ZAYID LAW utilizes a multi-faceted approach to attacking the prosecution’s case and poking holes in the investigation. Some of the common defenses I deploy include:

  • Questioning intent. Did you actually mean to steal vehicle? Was it a miscommunication? Did you intend on returning it?
  • Challenging the ownership to the vehicle. Many times, there is a genuine dispute over the ownership, which may lead to accusations of larceny.
  • Objecting to evidence illegally obtained, be it through a warrantless search, invalid search warrant, or improper confession

This is not an exhaustive list of defenses, and the only way to fully understand the tools at your disposal is by calling me and ZAYID LAW today. The sooner you call me, the sooner we can build your winning defense strategy and achieve the best possible outcome of your vehicle theft case.