Charged with Auto Theft in Minnesota?

In Minnesota, auto theft is considered grand theft, a felony offense punishable by fines up to $10,000 and a prison sentence up to five years or more.

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Minnesota Auto Theft Laws

All types of thefts are considered serious offenses in Minnesota, but auto theft carries significant penalties because it is considered grand theft. Like most states, theft in Minnesota is punished based on the value of the stolen property. If the property is valued over $1,000, the theft is considered a felony offense, usually punishable with jail time.

Minnesota auto theft falls under broader statutes that define theft as the taking of another person’s property. To be found guilty of theft, the offender must know, or have reason to know, that the owner of the property did not give his/her consent to take the property. Auto theft statutes specifically prohibit taking or driving another person’s vehicle without the owner’s consent. Auto theft falls under several distinct categories in Minnesota:


Carjacking is defined as taking a vehicle from a driver by force or threat that may involve physical violence or a weapon. Although Minnesota does not have specific statutes for carjacking, it is considered a serious offense that’s often prosecuted under state robbery laws.


In most states, joyriding is treated as a less serious crime than theft, because the offender does not typically keep the vehicle permanently. However, Minnesota’s auto theft laws only consider that the offender took the vehicle without the owner’s permission, not that he/she may plan to return it. Joyriding offenses often involve underage drivers who take a parent’s, relative’s, or friend’s vehicle without permission.

Failure to Return a Rental Car

Under Minnesota laws, failure to return a rental car is considered auto theft, even if the car was rented legally by a licensed driver. A driver who fails to return a rental car and has no communication with the rental car company about the return can face grand theft auto charges.

In Minnesota, auto theft charges carry stiff penalties including fines up to $10,000. a five-year prison term, and the cost of damages to the stolen vehicle. If the vehicle is valued over $5,000, or if aggravating factors such as drunk driving are present, penalties may be enhanced. If charged with grand theft auto in Minnesota, a criminal law attorney will be necessary to navigate the charges and provide a proper criminal defense.

Max Keller has won countless jury trial cases involving misdemeanors and felonies, sex crimes, and DWI’s. He is a member of the Minnesota Society for Criminal Justice, which only allows the top 50 criminal defense attorneys in the state as members. Max is a frequent speaker at CLE’s and is often asked for advice by other defense attorneys across Minnesota.

Years of Experience: Approx. 20 years
Minnesota Registration Status: Active
Bar & Court Admissions: State of Minnesota Minnesota State Court Minnesota Federal Court 8th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals State of Maryland

What to Do If You Have Been Charged with a Criminal Offense

Confidential informants may provide integral information to help build criminal investigations, but how reliable is that information when they are receiving payment for their services? To protect them, state law requires the identity of informants be kept confidential. For those facing criminal charges, however, this creates challenges in questioning the accuracy and validity of the information given at trial.
Stay calm and compose after getting accused of a crime but not charged in Minneapolis, MN. Do not discuss the facts of your case with anyone, including your relatives and family members. Hire a criminal defense attorney with a demonstrated record of winning cases like yours. Your attorney will discuss your rights, guide you on how to cooperate with law enforcement within the legal boundaries, and build a solid defense strategy to fight the charges you could face in the future.
Expungement and sealing of records in Minnesota affect how your criminal history appears to government agencies and the public. The main difference between the two legal actions is that expungement permanently removes past arrests, criminal charges, or convictions from private and public databases, while sealing hides the criminal record from the public. Courts, government entities, and law enforcement agencies can access sealed criminal records.