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Understanding Motor Vehicle Theft

People who are facing charges for motor vehicle theft have a good reason for wanting to understand the laws as related to the charge. Not only do charges vary based on the type of motor vehicle involved, but also on the amount that the vehicle is worth. 

Motor vehicle theft is the theft of, or even the attempted theft of, a vehicle. Borrowing a vehicle when you have legal permission to do so is not considered motor vehicle theft, however, when you have legal access to it. 

Certain vehicles are not considered motor vehicles 

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement defines a motor vehicle as “a self-propelled vehicle that runs on land surfaces and not on rails.” According to this definition, the following vehicles are not covered under this law but instead are under different laws with different consequences. 

  • Farm equipment 
  • Bulldozers 
  • Airplanes 
  • Construction equipment 
  • Watercrafts such as motorboats, sailboats, houseboats or jet skis 

This law covers the following motor vehicles. 

  • Trucks 
  • Busses 
  • Motorcycles 
  • Sport utility vehicles 
  • Snowmobiles 
  • All-terrain vehicles 
  • Automobiles 
  • Motor scooters 

Different consequences for different vehicles 

Depending on the type of vehicle stolen, and the dollar amount it is worth, the felony charges for motor vehicle theft vary from the first to the third degree. The Florida State Statute Chapter 812 outlines the circumstances for each type of felony. Additionally, felony charges may change depending on what else was in the vehicle at the time. For example, if someone steals a vehicle that has a commercially farmed animal in it, that is punishable by a $10,000 fine on top of the felony charges. 

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