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NY Penal Law § 165.05: Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle in the Third Degree

June 29, 2020 Federal Criminal Attorneys

If you use someone’s vehicle without that person’s permission to do so, you have committed the crime of unauthorized use of a vehicle.  You could be prosecuted for unauthorized use of a vehicle in the third degree under New York Penal Law § 165.06, if you:


  1. Take someone’s automobile without having person’s permission to take it, or
  2. Neglect to return another person’s automobile when agreed or on request and you keep it for a protracted period of time.


An Example

Iman often let her 21 year old son, Christian, use her car. Whenever he asked, she would just toss him keys and let him know that she wanted him to return the vehicle at a certain time with a full tank of gas. On one such occasion, when Christian asked Iman to use his car, she agreed as was customary. On this occasion, she warned him that she had an important appointment at 6:00pm, so that she really needed him to return the car promptly by 4:00pm.


Unfortunately, Christian did not bring back the car by 4:00. In fact, he did not even return it to her the next day. He told Iman that he really needed it and would bring it back as soon as he could. Furious, Iman reached out to the police. Christian probably would not be prosecuted for unauthorized use of a vehicle in the third degree because he had permission to drive the vehicle and he only had the vehicle for a day longer than the agreement.


Offenses that are Related

Grand larceny in the fourth degree: New York Penal Law § 155.30

Unauthorized use of a vehicle in the second degree: New York Penal Law § 165.06


Possible Defenses

A key defense against a charge of unauthorized use of a vehicle in the third degree is that you did indeed have permission to utilize the vehicle. If, for example, you have an arrangement with a friend that you can use that friend’s vehicle whenever you need it, then you might have a valid defense against a charge of unauthorized use of a vehicle.  As long as you return the vehicle to the owner within a reasonable period of time, this charge could not hold.


The Sentence

Due to the fact that unauthorized use of a vehicle in the third degree is categorized as  a Class A misdemeanor, if you are convicted, you could get sent to county jail for up to one year.  Additionally, you may be ordered to pay a fine. In some cases, it is also possible for the judge to sentence you just to a probation term of 3 years.



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