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Motor Vehicle Theft is a Common Crime in Chicago

 Posted on March 08, 2024 in Criminal Defense

IL defense lawyerThe popularity of TikTok videos has fueled the theft of motor vehicles in the past few years. In 2023, there were a reported 29,063 stolen vehicles in the Windy City. Earlier this year, there were 457 vehicles stolen in a single week.

If you have been accused of stealing a motor vehicle in Chicago, you deserve dependable legal counsel. Our Chicago motor vehicle theft attorney would like to discuss the legal implications of motor vehicle theft charges.

Illinois Law Against Car Theft

According to 625 ILCS 5/4-103, you will be considered in possession of a stolen motor vehicle if any of the following circumstances apply:

  • If you do not own the motor vehicle and attempt to dispose of or sell the vehicle with the knowledge that it is stolen
  • If you knowingly falsify, remove, or destroy the vehicle identification number (VIN) or an engine number identifying the vehicle
  • If you knowingly concealing the identity of a vehicle
  • Buying, selling, or disposing of a vehicle, knowing that the VIN number has been removed or falsified, or
  • Falsifying a police report regarding theft or conversion of a vehicle

Penalties for Possession of a Stolen Motor Vehicle in Illinois

Car theft is charged under 720 ILCS 5/16-1 (Illinois theft statute). If the vehicle is valued between $10,000 and $100,000, the crime will be charged as a class 2 felony. Under Illinois law, you may be sentenced to three to seven years in prison. You may also be paying $25,000 in fines.

If the car is valued at more than $500 but less than $10,000, the crime is a class 3 felony. A class 3 felony carries a sentence of two to five years in jail, with the potential of $25,000 in fines.

Mens Rea and Actus Reus

To be found guilty of motor vehicle theft, the prosecution must show that you had a stolen motor vehicle and knew it was stolen. This requires the prosecution to prove that you had a certain intention when committing the offense. In criminal law, we refer to this as mens rea. When you act knowingly, you are aware that your actions will likely lead to certain results.

The other element of every crime is the act itself, also known as actus reus. In motor vehicle theft, it would be the action of stealing the car.

Possible Defenses

Being accused of motor vehicle theft is a serious crime. A Chicago motor vehicle theft attorney will be able to discern which defenses are viable, given your situation.

Defenses for motor vehicle theft may include:


This affirmative defense may be the most obvious in any theft case. It states that the vehicle owner gave you permission to use the car. This would negate criminal liability since you were allowed to use the car and did not steal another person’s property.

Mistaken Ownership

If you own the car but your registration is being transferred from another vehicle, this would be a valid defense.

Intoxication and/or Drugs

Motor vehicle theft requires that you be aware of the situation and that your actions would cause a particular result. If you were impaired, it is unlikely that the prosecution will be able to prove intent.

Contact a Chicago, IL, Motor Vehicle Theft Attorney Today

If you are facing motor vehicle theft allegations, you will want to do everything possible to combat these charges. Our Chicago, IL, motor vehicle theft attorney has represented hundreds of clients in state and federal criminal investigations with great success. Contact Law Offices of James F. DiQuattro today online or by calling 312-627-9482 to schedule your free consultation to learn more.

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