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Joyriding Defense Attorney - Utah Criminal Lawyer

A joyriding charge in Utah (unauthorized control over a motor vehicle) could result in a felony conviction and a prison term of up to five years and thousands of dollars in fines. If you are facing criminal charges for joyriding or exercising unauthorized control over a motor vehicle, it is critical to have an experienced Utah criminal defense attorney on your side. Based in Salt Lake City, Stephen Howard has successfully defended some of the most serious charges on the books in Utah. He has a record of achieving real results for his clients. Contact us today to arrange an initial consultation.

Elements of a Joyriding Charge (Unlawful Control Over Motor Vehicle)

Utah technically has no crime of "joyriding." Under Utah's criminal code, the crime commonly referred to as "joyriding" is called "unauthorized control over a motor vehicle." Unlike motor vehicle theft, "unauthorized control" only requires that the person charged have the intent to "temporarily" deprive the owner of the vehicle.

Many joyriding charges in Utah begin as vehicle theft cases.  If the vehicle is not returned before police locate it, a prosecutor or jury may conclude that the person with the car never intended to return it.  If a person has the intent to keep the vehicle, the charge becomes a second degree felony vehicle theft punishable by up to 15 years in prison.  If you are charged with vehicle theft, a good criminal defense attorney may be able to negotiate a misdemeanor joyriding charge.

Penalties for Joyriding Convictions in Utah

The severity of a joyriding conviction in Utah can depend on the length of time that the vehicle is missing. If the vehicle is gone for more than 24 hours, a third degree felony may be charged with potential punishment of up to five years in prison. If the vehicle is returned within 24 hours, it is typically charged as a class A misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of up to a year in jail.

The time periods involved in determining the level of a joyriding charge are premised on the idea that the defendant is the person who returns the vehicle. If police recover the vehicle and return it within the 24 period, the charge can still be filed as a third degree felony.

A third degree felony can also be filed for joyriding if the vehicle is damaged while under the control of the defendant.

Finding a Criminal Attorney in Salt Lake City, Utah

As an experienced Utah criminal defense attorney, Stephen Howard has successfully handled thousands of criminal cases for clients during his career. He has a record of achieving real results for clients. Based in Salt Lake City, he provides legal services to clients throughout Utah.

If you are facing joyriding charges or prosecution for other Utah crimes, you need an experienced criminal attorney on your side. Contact us now to schedule an initial consultation with Utah criminal defense lawyer Stephen Howard.


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  • Criminal Defense AttorneyDismissed - Charges of insurance fraud were brought when investigators found reason to believe that client's claim of injury was fraudulent. Client was seen kicking a soccer ball, and investigators concluded that the injury claim was false. By obtaining medical records and other administrative records, and by pointing out to the prosecutor that the alleged injury interferred with the client's ability to lift - not his ability to kick a ball - the prosecutor agreed to dismiss the case.
  • Minor Possession Alcohol - MIP AttorneyDismissed - Minor in possession charge (MIP) was dismissed by prosecutor when defense analysis demonstrated that the police had failed to obtain necessary evidence against client. Police had raided a large party involving underage drinking. Several individuals were charged, but police did not obtain evidence showing that client had personally consumed or possessed alcohol. Case was dismissed.
  • Utah Probation Attorney Released - Client absconded for more than 10 years from felony probation with Adult Probation and Parole. At an order to show cause hearing, prosecutor argued aggressively for prison. Based on effective mitigation efforts by the defense, the judge agreed to release client without further jail.
  • Utah Burglary Attorney Not Guilty - Client was charged with residential felony burglary and theft charges. Effective cross-examination of alleged victim at preliminary hearing resulted in an admission by the alleged victim that the charges were based on a false report to police, made for the purpose of getting revenge against the defendant. Case was dismissed outright.
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Serving Salt Lake, Davis, Weber, Utah, Cache, Tooele, Summit, Box Elder, and Wasatch Counties, and all of Utah.

Attorney Stephen Howard practices as part of the Canyons Law Group, LLC and Stephen W. Howard, PC.

Offices in Salt Lake and Davis Counties
560 South 300 East, Suite 200, Salt Lake City, UT 84111
952 S. Main St., Suite A, Layton, UT 84041

Call now to arrange for a confidential initial consultation with an experienced and effective Utah criminal defense lawyer.

In Salt Lake City, call 801-449-1409.
In Davis County, call 801-923-4345.

Stephen W. Howard, PC

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