What to do if my boyfriend has been charged with stealing a car that he only borrowed?

My boyfriend has been arrested for auto theft with priors and taking a without consent. He borrowed the car from a friend who, we now know, was in the process of purchasing the car. When this friend didn’t make his payment on time, the owner went to “repo” the vehicle. When it wasn’t there, he reported it stolen. Is there anything we can do to help get the charges dropped or at least reduced?

Asked on June 7, 2014 under Criminal Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Criminal liability is based on not just a criminal act, but also having a criminal intent (or "mens rea"). For example, it's not theft to pick up  briefcase that looks just like mine, so I got them confused, though it is theft to take someone else's briefcase knowing it was not mine. If the friend will tell the police and prosecutor that he gave your boyrfiend permission to borrow the care and that your boyfriend had no reason to know that he (the friend) did not have the right to the car at that time, that will most likely help--the authorities may reduce the charges, or possibly even drop them, or at least reduce the punishment they seek.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.