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Home  >  Theft Crimes  >  Motor Vehicle Theft

Cape Cod Motor Vehicle Theft Defense Lawyers

Cape Cod, like the rest of Massachusetts, takes the unauthorized control or taking of another’s personal property seriously. That includes motor vehicle theft, which is considered a felony in most cases. With defendants facing potential prison time and hefty fines, retaining counsel should be the first priority when being investigated or arrested for motor vehicle theft.

Offering remarkable criminal defense for those accused of theft, James Powderly can help defendants mount an aggressive defense against accusations of stealing vehicles. If you’ve been accused of motor vehicle or trailer theft under MA Gen L ch 266 § 28 (2017), your defense of these charges requires skilled legal assistance fighting in your corner.

Contact our firm at (508) 343-0676 to discuss your case and potential outcomes.

Motor Vehicle Theft in Massachusetts

Depending on your case’s unique circumstances, taking or using any motorized vehicle or trailer in Massachusetts could be classified as joyriding, carjacking, or motor vehicle theft. How you’re charged depends on the circumstances which led to your charges.


Taking a motorized vehicle or trailer with the intention of taking control of the owner’s property without their consent, but then returning the vehicle or trailer later on, would be considered joy riding. Persons convicted of this lesser theft crime would face 30 days up to two (2) years in jail, and pay fines ranging from $50 to $500.


Simply put, carjacking is motor vehicle theft by injuring or intimidating the owner. Bodily harm is not necessary to prove an individual carjacked another; fear that bodily harm may happen is enough. Carjacking carries up to two and a half (2.5) years in jail and fines up to $15,000. However, if the thief was armed during the incident, that sentence can be enhanced to twenty (20) years in prison.

Motor Vehicle Theft

Taking a vehicle or trailer with the intention of depriving the owner of their rights to said property will land an individual in jail for up to two and a half (2.5) years. Additionally, a one-year license suspension for first-time offenders should be expected, along with fines and restitution.

The criminal record of the defendant and other circumstances specific to their case will determine the appropriate sentence if convicted of their crimes.

Why Do I Need a Lawyer?

Prosecutors file charges, but that doesn’t guarantee they’ll secure a conviction against you. In fact, to prove motor vehicle theft, Massachusetts must prove:

  • The defendant took illegal control of a trailer or motor vehicle with the intent to deprive the owner of their rights to the property permanently; and
  • The defendant knew the vehicle did not belong to them.

While this seems easy if the defendant was in possession of the vehicle, many components can be disproven by an experienced criminal defense lawyer. For one, the verbiage in the law requires that the defendant knowingly and intentionally set out to deprive the owner permanently. Borrowing a vehicle and returning it would discredit the prosecution’s attempt to portray the defendant’s attempt at permanent deprivation. A skilled lawyer will be able to find these weaknesses in the prosecutor’s case; an overworked public defender might easily miss them, costing you money and time in prison.

Why Choose Us?

People who’ve retained James Powderly over the years can attest to the zealous defense offered to those accused of motor vehicle theft. With superior representation, defendants will have a fighting chance to either lessen the charges, or have them dismissed altogether.

Defenses that our firm will raise on the accused person’s behalf include:

  • Mistaken identity. It’s common for police to accuse or arrest persons who look similar. Perhaps the victim thought they saw you, identified what they thought was you in a police lineup, but you actually had nothing to do with the vehicle theft.
  • Owner granted permission. Massachusetts law requires the defendant take the vehicle with the sole intention of depriving the owner. Perhaps the owner sent a text message or placed a phone call saying the defendant could borrow the car, but then forgot they granted approval.
  • Present but not complicit. Being around another’s motor vehicle theft but not actively participating means you couldn’t be held liable for merely “being there,” as the law states you must have physically taken control of the vehicle or trailer.
  • Evidence of deprivation lacks. The prosecution must prove your theft had “intent.” You cannot be convicted of auto theft if the state lacks evidence of the requisite component. In other words, borrowing and intent to deprive are exclusive of each other; one is not criminally punishable, and the other is.

Raising these defenses takes an incredible amount of preparation and knowledge of courtroom etiquette. Most defendants lack formal knowledge of criminal procedures, are unaware of how to get the prosecution’s discovery, and do not know what it takes to effectively bargain for reduced sentences via plea. More importantly, some cases have insufficient grounds, which means they can be dismissed almost immediately.

Retain James Powderly, and we’ll handle these formalities for you. We’ll fight to preserve your rights to a fair trial, and work toward resolving the criminal complaint in the most efficient manner possible.

Motor Vehicle Theft Cases We Handle

Our firm handles criminal cases stemming from:

  • Motor vehicle theft;
  • Carjacking
  • Larceny of a vehicle;
  • Joyriding;
  • Vehicular manslaughter after theft;
  • Operating an uninsured vehicle after theft;
  • Hit & run accidents while in a stolen vehicle;
  • Possession of burglarious tools used to steal motor vehicles; and
  • Trailer, personal watercraft and other forms of motorized transportation theft.

Any crimes that have a vehicle or some form of transportation will fall under theft or larceny in Massachusetts. Those accused of these crimes should phone James Powderly immediately.

Accused of Motor Vehicle Theft? Call Us Immediately!

If you have been charged with motor vehicle theft in Cape Cod, you need stellar defense on your side to protect your freedom and your future. James Powderly mounts an incredible defense for those accused of auto theft. Looking at all components of the prosecution’s discovery, we’ll find ways to keep defendants out of jail by discrediting any piece of evidence which doesn’t meet the burden of proof required to secure a conviction.

Don’t leave your defense to an overworked public defender in cases where skilled representation could be the difference between freedom and imprisonment. Call our theft crimes team to schedule your case review at (508) 343-0676.