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Attorneys Monroe MI

If you have been charged with driving away an automobile, or UDAA, in Michigan, you may wonder what your rights are. This is a severe charge resulting in jail time and a criminal record. We will explain what the charge means and what kind of defense you can use if you are charged with UDAA.

In Michigan, two auto theft offenses involve the unlawful driving away of an automobile without intent to steal. The first is the unlawful driving away of an automobile or UDAA. The second is the Unauthorized Use of an Automobile. These auto theft offenses occur when a motor vehicle belongs to someone else and is driven away without permission.

A UDAA is a serious charge and needs to be taken seriously. Talking to a Michigan criminal defense attorney is the first step. You need to understand what a UDAA case is and what defenses you have available.

unlawful use of an automobile

What is Unlawfully Driving Away an Automobile (UDAA) in Michigan?

It is against the law to steal another person’s motor vehicle and intentionally drive it away without permission. It is also a felony offense and carries the same penalties to assist someone else in stealing a car.

Taking control of the car and driving off is A felony committed by someone who takes physical possession of a motor vehicle without authorization and drives or attempts to drive away with it. Anyone who aids the offender may be sentenced to five years in prison. This offense is also unlawful driving away from an automobile in Michigan (UDAA).

How does Michigan Law define UDAA?

The Unlawful Driving Away an Automobile (UDAA) charge is defined in the Michigan compilations of laws, MCL 750.413. This provision states:

  “Taking possession of and driving away from a motor vehicle—Any person who shall, wilfully and without authority, take possession of and drive or take away, and any person who shall assist in or be a party to such taking possession, driving or taking away of any motor vehicle, belonging to another, shall be guilty of a felony, punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for not more than five years.”

Michigan Criminal Law Code 750.413

Is UDAA a felony in Michigan?

Yes, UDAA is a felony in Michigan. If you are convicted of UDAA, you will have a felony on your criminal record. The penalty for UDAA in Michigan is a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a fine of up to $5000. A person convicted will be sentenced under the Michigan sentencing guidelines.

Additionally, having a criminal conviction on your record can impact your life in other ways. Getting a job, housing, or loans can make it challenging. A felony will also result in losing your right to vote and possess a firearm.

How does the prosecutor prove driving away an automobile?

The prosecution must establish all of the following beyond a reasonable doubt to convict someone under the UDAA:

  1. The defendant did not own the automobile. The motor vehicle belonged to someone else.
  2. The defendant obtained possession of the motor vehicle and drove or carried it away.
  3. The defendant did not have the owner’s permission or authority to take or drive the motor vehicle, and
  4. The defendant intended to drive the vehicle away.

The primary issue in a UDAA case is whether or not the defendant believed they had the authorization to take the motor vehicle. This is the issue that is usually most in dispute.


Common Defense to an Unauthorized Driving Away an Automobile Charge

A mistake is a common defense to UDAA accusations. A defendant’s mistake or a misunderstanding about his ability to use an automobile can negate the necessary element of the UDAA charge.

Another common defense is that there was permission to use the automobile. The defendant may have used the vehicle previously and assumed they had permission to use it.

There will be a preliminary examination when one is charged with unauthorized driving away from an automobile. During this preliminary examination, the prosecution must show that the defendant intended to take a vehicle belonging to another. The charge may be dismissed if the prosecutor cannot show that the defendant intended to take the vehicle.

An excellent criminal defense lawyer can often try to work out an agreement with the prosecutor if a deal is to be made. This deal can often be a Cobbs Agreement where your lawyer, the prosecutor, and the Judge pre-judge your case. This allows you to know what penalty you would receive ahead of time.

What is the Unauthorized Use Of An Automobile?

A person who drives away a vehicle without the owner’s consent is guilty of Unlawful Use of an Automobile (Unlawful Use of a Motor Vehicle). This offense is often referred to as Joy Riding.

In Michigan, unlawful use is a high-court misdemeanor with a maximum sentence of two years in jail and $1,500 in fines. If it’s your first offense, the court may reduce the penalty to three months imprisonment and $500 in fines.

The prosecution must show beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant used a motor vehicle that was not their own and intended to use it, knowing they did not have the authority to establish Unlawful Use of an Automobile.

Common examples of unlawful use of an automobile are a friend or relative giving the defendant a motor vehicle to use and the defendant not returning the vehicle.

What is the Difference Between UDAA and Unlawful Use of an Automobile?

The distinction between these two charges is that the defendant must have taken control of the motor vehicle unlawfully in the first place to be guilty of unlawfully driving away from a car. Unlawful use of a vehicle is a lesser charge if the defendant obtained legal access to the automobile but then utilized it unlawfully.

It is common for the prosecutor to offer a reduced charge of Unlawful Use of an Automobile when one is charged with a UDAA. Retaining criminal defense lawyers experienced in these automobile UDAA charges is imperative.

udaa michigan

Talk to Criminal Defense Lawyers who specialize in auto theft cases

A stolen motor vehicle charge is a serious crime. Talking to a criminal defense attorney if you face these charges is essential.

Bruce Law Firm offers a free consultation to discuss your case. Our team of experienced lawyers will review the facts of your case and advise you of your options. We have successfully represented clients charged with this crime and can help you, too.

The Bruce Law Firm has successfully defended many clients against UDAA charges. Call today.