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Motor Vehicle & Auto Theft Lawyers in Minneapolis

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Meet Our Minneapolis Liquor Law Defense Lawyers

Three Attorneys, One Powerful Law Firm

Attorney Kyle Dreger

Kyle Dreger

Minneapolis Motor Vehicle Auto Theft Lawyer

Attorney Gerald Miller

Gerald Miller

Minneapolis Motor Vehicle Auto Theft Lawyer

Attorney Cody Wright

Cody Wright

Minneapolis Motor Vehicle Auto Theft Lawyer

Why Trust Gerald Miller Law Firm


  • We offer you a FREE no obligation initial consultation.
  • We only practice criminal defense law. We don’t split our time working on other areas of law so that we can provide intense focus to your criminal case.
  • Our team is available to you 24/7/365. Our resources are deep and strong. We collaborate and continually draw from each other’s experience to devise the best strategy and defense for you.
  • Our seasoned team of Minneapolis assault lawyers, Minneapolis sex crimes lawyers, Minneapolis drug crimes lawyers, Minneapolis fraud lawyers, Minneapolis DWI lawyers and much more will fight hard for you and be by your side every step of the way.
  • We have decades of criminal courtroom experience and an in-depth knowledge of the legal system and Minnesota criminal law. This experience has taught us sophisticated and highly skilled courtroom tactics, as well as adept trial and negotiating skills.
  • We understand that each case and client is uniquely different. People hire us because of our knowledge of the system, and realize that it is our job to help a client navigate a difficult process. As we are preparing a case, we know what to look for in the evidence, but also realize that it is critical to listen to our clients needs. Then, only after we know our client, we can tailor make a defense unique to your case depending on the goals we have set out.
  • We will always treat you with compassion and respect. As our former clients will tell you, we are very quick and prompt in answering any questions, and will keep you informed about every step in the process. We have an appreciation for how stressful criminal charges can be, and that is why we take it very seriously to provide a calming, and honest, reassurance throughout. We consider the “service” side of our job to be as serious as anything else we do because being trusted to be someone’s attorney is a privilege.

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    How Minneapolis Motor Vehicle Auto Theft Attorneys Can Serve You

    Ordinary Auto Theft



    Failure to Timely Return Rental Vehicle

    Auto theft is one of the most serious felonies in Minnesota. As outlined below, this offense is much broader in the Gopher State than it is elsewhere. In fact, in Hennepin County, auto theft is actually an umbrella term for a number of different offenses.

    At Gerald Miller, P.A., our team aggressively challenges the state’s evidence in these cases. This assertive stance usually helps us successfully resolve these cases before trial. Once we unveil the weaknesses in the state’s case, prosecutors are usually willing to enter into favorable plea bargain agreements. These agreements often include reduced charges or a lesser sentence.

    Motor Vehicle Auto Theft Charges in Minneapolis

    Ordinary Auto Theft

    Since vehicle theft is a grand theft offense in Minnesota, it is always a felony, regardless of the property’s value.
    Generally, taking property, including a motor vehicle, without the consent of the owner constitutes vehicle theft in Minnesota. Note that the person need not intend to permanently deprive the owner of the property. That provision gives rise to some specific kinds of auto theft, which are outlined below.

    Ask any reputed Minneapolis Motor Vehicle Auto Theft Lawyer, and they will tell you that lack of evidence is one of the most common defenses to vehicle theft charges. Evidentiary weaknesses usually include a lack of evidence placing the defendant at the scene or the lack of an owner’s testimony. Prosecutors normally rely on circumstantial evidence, such as eyewitness testimony to establish the taking. For various reasons, not all eyewitnesses are competent to testify in court.

    Additionally, the vehicle’s owner must appear in court and offer testimony. Frequently, the trial occurs many months after the alleged theft. By that time, many owners have either lost interest in the case or relocated beyond the court’s subpoena power.

    An affirmative defense, such as entrapment might be available as well. Local law enforcement agencies sometimes “bait” people with unlocked cars, unchained bicycles, and other tempting targets. If the defendant had no predisposition to commit the crime, such enticements might be illegal.


    Prosecutors typically apply the robbery statute to these offenses. Carjacking is basically taking a car from a person by force. Simple carjacking usually involves either the threat of force or mild physical force, such as pushing the driver out of the car.

    Simple carjacking, or simple robbery, is a very serious charge. However, there is a difference between auto theft and robbery. When carjacking is involved, you want to work with a Minneapolis Motor Vehicle Auto Theft Lawyer rather than a Robbery Defense Lawyer in Minneapolis. The maximum penalty is ten years in prison. Certain aggravating factors cause the penalty to increase significantly. These enhancements include:

    • Use of a dangerous weapon (almost any object can be a “dangerous weapon”),
    • Infliction of bodily harm (“bodily harm” essentially means any injury requiring first aid), and
    • Falsely claiming that a weapon is involved (e.g. saying “get out of the car or I’ll shoot you” even though the defendant did not have a gun).

    Once again, lack of evidence is often an effective defense, particularly to aggravated carjacking. Frequently, prosecutors rely on the alleged victim’s account of the carjacking to prove an aggravating factor. Observations made during periods of extreme stress are notoriously unreliable. Additionally, if the alleged victim’s trial testimony is different from statements made to police officers, the jury might disregard this testimony altogether.


    In many states, joyriding is a lesser offense, since there is no intent to permanently deprive the owner of the property. But in Minnesota, joyriding is a subset of auto theft. Legally, joyriding is taking another person’s car without the consent of the owner. Frequently, these infractions involve underage drivers who take a relative’s or friend’s care without permission.

    Permission, or the lack thereof, is often the key element. Many times, owners leave their vehicles unlocked and the keys in an easily accessible area. Such actions could be construed as giving permission, especially if the owner has granted permission on a previous occasion.

    Failure to Timely Return Rental Vehicle

    There is no hard and fast rule as to when an overdue return becomes an auto theft matter. Technically, if the renter returns the vehicle one minute late. The rental company could press auto theft charges. The 10 percent rule is usually a better rule of thumb. For example, if the defendant rented a car for three days (seventy-two hours) and returned it more than seven hours late, vehicle theft charges might hold up in court.

    Owners are more likely to press charges if the defendant did not communicate with the owner, returned a damaged car late, or had no legitimate excuse for the delay.

    Motor Vehicle Auto Theft FAQs

    Motor vehicle theft in Minnesota is taking property, such as a car or truck, without the consent of the owner. Subsets of vehicle theft include joyriding, carjacking, and failure to timely return a rental.
    Generally, no. Criminal infractions are usually in personam matters. In other words, a person, and not a thing, is on trial. However, if someone uses your car to commit a crime, the vehicle could be subject to forfeiture.
    Technically yes. But if the owner timely reported the car stolen, the charges will probably not hold up in court.
    Carjacking, or aggravated motor vehicle theft, is basically a combination of theft and robbery. Any violence, use of a weapon, or threat of a weapon, could support aggravated motor vehicle theft charges in Minnesota.
    The National Insurance Crime Bureau, and other agencies, use the Vehicle Identification Number to determine if a car was stolen. VIN usage often comes up in possession of stolen property cases. Furthermore, it is a federal offense to alter the VIN number.

    How We Make A Difference For You

    See What Our Clients Say

    Sara Brakefield
    Sara Brakefield
    23:17 15 Jan 21
    Kyle was amazing! He was very responsive, made sure I had all the information I needed, and made the process easy to understand. Kyle made an incredibly stressful situation a lot less stressful. I felt very well taken care of.
    Aaron Forgaard
    Aaron Forgaard
    18:18 15 Jan 21
    Kyle was amazing with everything from start to finish. He was as professional as they come and would always respond right away if you needed anything. Wouldn’t go anywhere else than him.
    Bobby Gadbois
    Bobby Gadbois
    22:13 13 Jan 21
    Kyle did a great job!
    Goodbones Music
    Goodbones Music
    19:18 13 Jan 21
    I wasn’t able to hire him and he still offered me help. This gentleman really knows his business of 40+ years and was not afraid to help little old me. Thanks Gerald.
    L L
    L L
    21:37 04 Jan 21
    Rachel Decloedt
    Rachel Decloedt
    22:35 28 Dec 20
    Kyle was very helpful and patient. He responded very quickly and answered all my questions. Should the need ever arise, I would gladly use his service again. I would definitely recommend him.

    See More Testimonials

    Keeping You Informed

    Latest Blog Posts

    Is Stealing a Car a Felony in Minnesota?

    Author: Gerald Miller

    In Minnesota, car theft charges are a bit different than in most other states, and this distinction


    Is Grand Theft Auto a Felony in Minnesota?

    Author: Cody Wright

    In the state of Minnesota, any theft of a vehicle results in a felony charge of grand theft auto (GT


    What Is Grand Theft Auto?

    Author: Kyle Dreger

    The term grand theft auto has entered the public consciousness as the title of a wildly popular vide



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