It was in early April that a man escaped from the Oklahoma County jail and stole a car from an 86-year-old woman while she was pumping gas. During the vehicle heist, the man knocked the elderly woman to the ground. As he sped off, he allegedly ran over her hands. He was promptly found and taken back into custody and authorities say he likely faces additional charges of theft.
What exact charges is he likely to face, though? Oklahoma has many statutes on auto theft, each with differentiating details that aren’t always so clear.
In Oklahoma, auto larceny, or auto theft, is defined as unlawfully taking possession of a vehicle that belongs to another person. This statute defines a vehicle as any aircraft, automobile, construction vehicle, farm equipment, or any other vehicle.
Auto larceny is considered a felony and those charged face three to 20 years in prison, or a possible fine of three times the value of the vehicle stolen if convicted. The maximum amount of the fine is $500,000. In some cases, those charged may face both the prison time and the high fines.
The man in the current news story will likely face carjacking charges, as the definition for this crime best fits the circumstances. Carjacking is covered under Oklahoma Statute Title 21, Section 791. This piece of Oklahoma’s auto theft laws defines carjacking as a type of robbery that involves taking property belonging to another person under the threat of force or the use of fear.
Robbery in the first degree involves the threat or use of force or fear. All other types of robberies are considered robbery in the second degree. However, due to the fact that nearly all car jackings involve some type of fear or force, most are charged as robbery in the first degree. This is a felony offense with a minimum sentence of 10 years in jail for those convicted.
Unauthorized Use of Vehicle
The Oklahoma Motor Vehicle Code also prohibits the unauthorized use of a motor vehicle. This sounds very similar to carjacking, but it’s not. This crime involves possessing a stolen car, driving a stolen car, or accepting a stolen car from someone else. This crime hinges on having the car in a person’s possession, not on stealing the car. It’s possible someone could face these charges even if they did not steal the vehicle. Unauthorized use of a vehicle is a felony. Those charged face up to two years in prison, a maximum fine of $1,000, or both if convicted.
Joyriding does not technically involve auto theft, but it is included with Oklahoma’s other auto theft statutes. Joyriding is defined as unlawfully driving, or trying to drive, someone else’s vehicle without their permission. It is the least serious of all auto theft charges and is considered a misdemeanor offense. Those convicted face a fine of between $100 and $500. A judge may also include up to one year in county jail with the sentence depending on the nature of the crime.
Facing Auto Theft Charges? Speak to an Oklahoma Criminal Defense Lawyer Who Can Help
Being charged with any type of auto theft is a very serious thing. You could face many years in jail, extremely high fines, or both. Don’t take chances with your freedom. Speak to a criminal defense lawyer in Oklahoma City who can help.
At Banks, Gillett, Gillett, PLLC, we are the attorneys who will work hard to protect your rights and give you the best chance of success in court. Call us today at (405) 607-4800 or fill out our online form. We understand that when you’re facing criminal charges, there’s no time to waste. Contact us today for your free consultation.