Unlawful Use Of Means Of Transportation – ARS § 13-1803

In today’s video, we’re talking about a crime in Arizona that’s called, Unlawful Use of Means of Transportation.

Essentially, this means that you’re borrowing somebody’s car without their permission. It’s a serious felony in Arizona.

We’re going to talk about the statute, how it works, where you can find it, what the penalties are, and make sure you have a plan in place, if you, or somebody you love, has been charged with Unlawful Use of Means of Transportation.

So, let’s dive into it. The statute is A.R.S. 13-1803, and if you look it up, you’re going to see that this does not involve actual theft of somebody’s car.

Meaning, you’re not going to be taking the vehicle and permanently depriving it of somebody else.

You’re not going to be stealing the car without any intention of returning it. You’re just not using it for the time being without the owner’s permission.

So that’s where the statute starts. It says, “Without the intent to permanently deprive,” another person of the vehicle, you can be charged and convicted of Unlawful Use of Means of Transportation if you do either one of the following.

So again, “Without the intent to permanently deprive.” Permanent deprivation means you’re actually taking it.

You have no intention of giving it back. It’s going to be yours forever. That’s your intention, that’s your goal. But if you don’t have that, and you do either one of these things, you can be charged with this crime.

First, knowingly, a person knowingly takes “unauthorized control over another person’s means of transportation.” “Means of transportation” is really, kind of the legal definition of a conveyance.

What are you using as a means to transport you from one location to another.

It’s mostly a car, sometimes, it can be a scooter or a bike.

Sometimes, it can be a motorized bike. It can be a motorcycle, it can be some sort of means of transportation that’s defined elsewhere in the statute, but essentially, it’s a car.

If you take somebody else’s car, and you knowingly take it, without their permission.

You take it, it’s unauthorized control over that person’s vehicle, over that person’s means of transportation, that’s one way you can get it.

So that would be a person who’s in control of the vehicle, a person who’s driving. The other way that you can get it is if you’re not, necessarily, the driver.

You’re not actually the person who is taking unauthorized control over that person’s vehicle, but you are, knowingly, transported, or you’re physically in a vehicle that you know, or you have reason to know, another person has unlawful possession over that vehicle.

So that means if you’re sitting in a car, if you’re a passenger, somebody else is driving the vehicle, and you know that that person is unauthorized to take control of that vehicle, they can charge you with Unlawful Use of Means of Transportation. The argument is, is that you’re using the vehicle just like the other person is.

You know, or you should know, you have reason to know, that that person doesn’t have any authorization to use the vehicle.

Therefore, criminal liability is going to attach to you, also.

That means, essentially, if a person has the ability to be convicted or guilty under this paragraph, paragraph one, and you are along for the ride, they can charge you with Unlawful Use of a Means of Transportation.

As I said in the beginning, it’s a serious felony. I have the penalties listed down here. Under paragraph one, knowingly taking unauthorized control of somebody else’s vehicle, it’s a class five felony. Arizona, we’ve got several different classes of felonies.

Class one is the most serious, it’s only for murder and those things. But really, two through six, are where you’ll see these fall.

So class five, it’s not the lowest level.

Class six is the lowest, class five is right above that, so it’s fairly serious. Just using another person’s vehicle, not actually stealing it, but just using it, without their permission. Unauthorized use, class five felony. If you are the passenger, it lowers it down from a class five into a class six.

Here, class six, if you’re the passenger, if you’re somebody who’s also using the vehicle, but you’re not the person who is actually taking unauthorized control over that vehicle.

You’re really being transported in that vehicle, or you are, physically, within that vehicle, or that means of transportation, either one of those two things.

If you’re caught by the police, and they contact the owner, and they find that the owner said, “I gave them no authorization to use that vehicle,” they can charge you with Unlawful Use of Means of Transportation.

Not a super common offense in Arizona, but it is one that we do see, and we have represented people. We do criminal law all throughout the state of Arizona.

Have appeared in almost every single court, all the ones that I can think of. All the important ones, we’ve been there.

We’ve handled these types of cases. So if you or a loved one has been charged with Unlawful Use of Means of Transportation, there is a lot that we can do to negate some of these different elements.

What are some defenses attacking knowingly, or really challenging whether the possession of the vehicle was truly unauthorized? Is there some ambiguity there? Is there an ability to make an argument that it wasn’t, in fact, unauthorized.

There was a period of time where it was authorized.

For whatever reason, the owner pulled back that authorization, but the individual who’s being charged with the offense didn’t actually know about it.

There was no constructive knowledge. There was no actual knowledge. And there are ways that you can make some pretty good defenses against these charges to be sure that you are not convicted of a felony.

Felony convictions, even for something like this, can have lasting ramifications. It can preclude your right to vote, own a firearm.

On every single job application, they’re going to want to know are you a convicted felon. It’s a serious offense, you want to make sure it’s dealt with appropriately.

Our office, we offer free case evaluations, meaning you can come into our office, sit down with our team, we’ll review your case, see if it’s a good fit for us to help you.

Make sure that there is stuff that we can help you with.

And ensure you have a good plan moving forward, so you don’t have to go through this alone.

Give us a call.

As I said, free case evaluations, no obligation at all.

Come on in, sit down, we look forward to speaking with you, and thanks for watching.

Unlawful use of means of transportation can result in a conviction of class 5 or class 6 felony. This can happen in one of two ways. Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS) § 13-1803 explains the elements the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt for such a conviction to take place; 1) a person knowingly takes unauthorized control over another person’s means of transportation, or 2) a person knowingly is transported or physically located in a vehicle that the person knows or has reason to know is in the unlawful possession of another person pursuant to paragraph 1 of section 13-1814. Both of these are broken down in further detail here:

  • ARS § 13-1803(A)(1) – A Class 5 Felony

A person commits unlawful use of means of transportation if, without intent permanently to deprive, the person knowingly takes unauthorized control over another person’s means of transportation.

Under the ARS, “means of transportation” is defined as “any vehicle.” ARS § 13-1801. Under ARS § 13-105, a “’vehicle’ means a device in, upon or by which any person or property is, may be or could have been transported or drawn upon a highway, waterway or airway, excepting devices moved by human power or used exclusively upon stationary rails or tracks.” Therefore, aside from things like bicycles and trains, most non-human powered means of transport will be considered a “vehicle” for the purposes of this statute. Keep in mind, however, there are other statutes such as theft that can apply to similar situations where a vehicle, as defined by ARS, is not involved. Generally, this statute is applied to cars and other standard civilian vehicles.

  • ARS § 13-1803(A) – A Class 6 Felony

A person commits unlawful use of means of transportation if, without intent permanently to deprive, the person knowingly is transported or physically located in a vehicle that the person knows or has reason to know is in the unlawful possession of another person pursuant to paragraph 1 or section 13-1814.

“Paragraph 1” refers to the section above. ARS § 13-1814 refers to similar circumstances as paragraph 1 above, however, covers situations where there was intent to deprive, aka theft. Being a passenger in a “stolen” vehicle can still cause you to be charged with a felony. In this type of a situation, the State would have to prove the passenger knew or had some reason to know the status of the means of transportation; that the person in control did not have lawful possession of the vehicle. Being a passenger and aware of the vehicle having been stolen can possibly result in a slightly reduced offense with a class 6 felony. This is the lowest felony offense, however, still a very serious charge/allegation.

ARS 13-1803 is not the most commonly charged offense in Arizona but when charged, the State generally pursues it aggressively. Although it seems the elements for this offense are cut and dry, there are many factors the State must prove to find you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.