In Georgia, unlawfully entering an automobile with the intent to commit a theft or felony crime can result in a charge of unlawful entry into a motor vehicle. The statute is written in such a way that not all unauthorized entries into motor vehicles may result in this charge. If you are charged with this crime, you could face stiff penalties, especially if the judge decides to treat this crime as a felony. Thankfully, there are numerous effective defenses against this charge. You should familiarize yourself with them so that you can participate in your own defense. However, it is vital to hire an experienced attorney to lead your legal defense efforts. The Freedom Lawyers are your trusted breaking or entering defense lawyer.
Georgia’s Entering an Automobile With Intent to Commit a Theft or Felony
In Georgia, unlawfully entering an automobile with the intent to commit theft or another felony is a felony itself. However, it can be processed as a misdemeanor at the discretion of a judge. In general, a person faces up to 1-5 years in prison for this type of charge, unless the trial judge chooses to deviate from the mandatory minimum.
This charge is usually applied when someone breaks into a vehicle to steal something within the vehicle, such as its stereo, purse, or items from within the vehicle. The unauthorized entry of a vehicle without the intent to commit a felony may only result in a misdemeanor trespassing charge.
An effective and experienced Entering Auto attorney can effectively argue this distinction. Hiring an experienced Entering defense lawyer can mean the difference between a lengthy jail sentence, misdemeanor probation, or in some cases a full dismissal of the case.
Penalties for Unlawful Entry of a Motor Vehicle
The penalties for unlawful entry of a motor vehicle vary. Each penalty depends on whether the judge chooses to process the case as a felony or as a misdemeanor. If the judge does not downgrade the charge to a misdemeanor, the penalty is one to five years in prison. If the judge reduces the charge to a misdemeanor, you may only have to pay a fine and 12 months probation.
We have extensive experience in unlawfully entering automobile cases. We have successfully challenged these types of charges numerous times, and know the best way to position your case for the best outcome possible.
Defenses Against an Unlawful Entry Charge
There are several possible defenses against an unlawful entry charge. These defenses include having an alibi, having the owner’s consent to enter the vehicle, or not having the intent to commit a crime.
If you have been charged with an unlawful entry charge, you could mount an alibi-based defense. This defense works best when the accused can prove they were not at the scene while the alleged crime was committed. While eyewitness testimony can be helpful, documentation such as cell phone tower records or video is often the most effective.
If you have the owner’s consent to enter a motor vehicle, you cannot be convicted of unlawful entry. Sometimes people are charged with unlawful entry in this situation. This occurs if a law enforcement officer is not aware that they have consent to enter the vehicle. Testimony or a sworn statement from the owner can lead to the charges being dropped.
No Intent to Commit a Felony or Theft
It is possible that the accused entered the vehicle without the intent to commit a felony. If there is no evidence that the defendant intended to commit a felony, this defense can be effective. However, the defendant could still be found guilty of a misdemeanor trespassing charge.
What Cannot Be a Defense Against an Entering Auto Charge
I Did Not Steal Anything
Even if the defendant does not steal anything, they cannot use this as a defense against an unlawful entry charge. The statute does not require the defendant to have actually stolen anything to be guilty of unlawful entry. The defendant only needs to have the intent to commit theft or another felony. A person’s actions before or after the entry can be considered by a jury as to whether or not they had the intent to commit a theft.
For example, someone who broke into a vehicle with the intent to steal its stereo may still be guilty of unlawful entry if they did not take the stereo. The prosecutor may be able to prove intent if the defendant had the tools to remove the stereo or if they told someone they intended to steal the stereo.
You Used to Own the Vehicle
You cannot break into a vehicle to take something if you used to own the vehicle. For example, you cannot break into a repossessed vehicle to remove property that you left inside. This action would still be considered an unlawful entry.
A Leading Law Firm Can Defend You Against These Charges
An unlawfully entering automobile charge can result in a lengthy prison sentence. You should do everything possible to defend yourself. By far the most important thing you can do is to hire an experienced lawyer to lead your legal defense. The Freedom Lawyers have extensive experience successfully defending clients who have been charged with Entering an Auto charge. They can provide you with quality legal representation as your breaking or entering defense lawyer. If you’d like to learn more about what The Freedom Lawyers visit our website. Contact us today for a free consultation.