The Law Office of Brian J. Mirandola


47 DuPage Court, Elgin, IL 60120


Can I Go to Jail for Unknowingly Buying a Stolen Vehicle?

 Posted on March 29, 2024 in Theft

Elgin, IL car theft lawyerCarjacking is a notorious problem in many parts of Illinois, and prosecutors are coming down hard on people caught stealing cars to try to make an example out of them. But what happens to those stolen cars? Are they ever sold and passed off as legitimate? 

Of course criminal vehicle theft carries hefty penalties in Illinois, but buying or receiving a stolen vehicle may also land you in legal trouble, even if you did not know that the vehicle was stolen. If you have been caught with a stolen vehicle, you will need the guidance of an experienced Illinois auto theft defense attorney to help you navigate these charges and show the court that you did not knowingly purchase or possess a stolen vehicle.

Penalties for Illinois Vehicle Theft

Illinois law is strict when it comes to vehicle theft, and the penalties for stealing a vehicle or possessing a stolen vehicle can be severe. Under Illinois criminal code, you can face between three to seven years in prison and fines of up to $25,000 if you steal or possess a vehicle valued at $10,000 or more; this is classified as a Class B felony.

If a vehicle was stolen through threats or deception, the charges become a Class 1 felony, which carries a penalty of prison time between four and 15 years, in addition to fines of up to $25,000 and vehicle restitution.

If a weapon or violence is used to steal the vehicle, this charge becomes a Class X felony charge, something Illinois law classifies as vehicular hijacking, or carjacking. Penalties for a Class X felony include prison time of six to thirty years and fines of up to $25,000.

Illinois law also carries penalties for the following acts of theft:

  • Buying, selling, possessing, receiving, or transferring a vehicle you know has been stolen

  • Altering or modifying a vehicle identification number (VIN)

  • Concealing or misrepresenting a vehicle

  • Buying, selling, possessing, or disposing of a vehicle with an altered VIN

Will I Face Penalties for Buying a Stolen Vehicle?

In the case that you knowingly purchase a stolen vehicle, you can face penalties under Illinois law for the possession or purchase of the vehicle, which may include jail time. However, the prosecution will need to prove that there was willful blindness, such as suspecting the vehicle was stolen but purchasing it anyway, or that you were in some way informed the vehicle was stolen and still chose to purchase it.

If you received or purchased a stolen vehicle from someone without knowing that it was stolen, and you can prove that there was a lack of knowledge, intent, or evidence regarding the vehicle’s theft, then charges against you for possessing or receiving stolen property may be dismissed. This is where the assistance of a skilled auto theft defense attorney is essential.

Contact a Kane County, IL Auto Theft Defense Attorney

Accidentally or unknowingly buying a stolen vehicle can land you in serious legal trouble, and it is important to have the stellar defense of an experienced Elgin, IL auto theft defense lawyer at your side if you face these charges.

Attorney Brian J. Mirandola is a former Assistant State's Attorney with an intricate understanding of how the prosecution creates cases, and he is uniquely qualified to handle your criminal defense case.

Call The Law Office of Brian J. Mirandola at 847-488-0889 for a free consultation.

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