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UUMV Texas | Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle

Experienced Defense of UUMV Charges

If you're accused of UUMV (unauthorized use of a motor vehicle) in Fort Worth or another city in Tarrant County, contact our criminal defense firm to schedule a cost-free consultation to begin working through the plan for your defense.

What is UUMV?

The unauthorized use of a motor vehicle is a charge that indicates a person has knowingly committed an offense by operating someone else's boat, aircraft, or automobile without obtaining the owner's consent. A crime of this type is considered a felony in the state of Texas.

As outlined by the Texas Penal Code, to be able to convict someone of the unauthorized use of a vehicle, the district attorney has the burden of proving that an individual willfully used another person's car, watercraft, aircraft, or other engine-powered vehicle without first gaining permission to do so. As a state felony, this criminal act in Tarrant County, Texas carries penalties of imprisonment in a State Jail for anywhere between 180 days and two years, along with a fine that can be as much as $10,000.

Unauthorized Vehicle Usage in the Texas Theft Regulations

Even though the offense is listed in the "theft" portion of Texas's Penal Code, the prosecuting attorney doesn't have to prove the estimated value of a stolen or misused vehicle in court. There is also no necessity that the prosecutor demonstrate that the accused even committed any thievery, only that they operated the motorized vehicle without first gaining the owner’s consent. A lot of people envision kids taking “joy rides” whenever they hear of unpermitted vehicle usage, but it also frequently happens whenever people participating in drug deals let somebody use their vehicle, and the borrower keeps it for longer than anticipated.

Another difference between UUMVs and thefts is that the former is a state felony with a punishment of up to two years in a state prison. Based on the vehicle's value, a theft has a much more broad range of penalties that can go all the way up to a third-degree felony, which may include up to 10 years in a Texas prison. The more valuable the vehicle, the more likely it is that the prosecutor will claim a charge of theft in order to inflict a more severe punishment on the offender.

Proving Unauthorized Vehicle Usage in Court

The main concern is whether a defendant’s admittance into another person's vehicle and their short stay inside of it adds up to "use" as far as exercising control or dominion over the car. The defense must prove that their client did not start the vehicle's engine during their brief entry, which is easier if there's no evidence that they possessed an ignition bypass tool or tried to hotwire the car.

The time spent by the defendant in the vehicle must have been temporary and should not -- aside from their unsanctioned entry -- have prevented the owner from using it, not even for a second. Any damages to the vehicle and the discovery of tools that might have been used by the defendant for different reasons, including prying open the door or stripping out the stereo, are considered to be separate crimes.

Using a Vehicle Without Permission is a Major Crime in Fort Worth, Texas

Being convicted of the unauthorized use of a motor vehicle is a big deal, as it is currently categorized as a felony charge in the state of Texas and can often be won by the prosecution in court. For that reason, it's a good idea to employ a successful criminal defense team that understands all court procedures in Fort Worth and will go the extra mile to defend your freedom.