how can a person be charged with possession of a stolen vehicle if the car was not reported stolen?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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how can a person be charged with possession of a stolen vehicle if the car was not reported stolen?

My friend was charged with a felony possession of a stolen motor vehicle. However, I just found out that it was the van I gave him that he was pulled over in and went to jail for. The van is in my name but I never reported it stolen, so how can this be? What can I do to help him in his case and how can I help him get out of jail? It’s in my name, I have the title and I still have my original bill of sale.

Asked on December 22, 2018 under Criminal Law, Washington


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

He can be charged because he was in a car not his own: a reasponable presumption is that if someone is driving a car not titled to him/her, it was stolen (which includes being taken without permission by using keys the person had access to, as well as breaking into or hot wiring it). 
You can help him by contacting the prosecutor's office, stating that you let him use the van, and providing proof that it is yours. Once you establish that he had permission to use the van, the charges should be dropped.

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