Under Rhode Island criminal law, Possession of a Stolen Vehicle is a felony offense that may be found under Rhode Island General Laws, Section 31-9-2. This offense makes it unlawful for any person to knowingly have in his or her possession a stolen motor vehicle, or to receive or transfer possession of a vehicle known to be stolen or unlawfully taken.
Further, it is unlawful for a person to receive, barter, conceal, store, sell, convey, or dispose of stolen motor vehicle parts which that person knows or has reason to believe have been stolen or unlawfully taken.
Legal Elements of Possession of a Stolen Vehicle
In order to be convicted of Possession of a Stolen Vehicle, there must exist strong evidence of the following legal elements:
- the defendant was in possession of a vehicle;
- that the defendant knew or had reason to believe the vehicle had been stolen or unlawfully taken; and
- the defendant was not an officer of the law engaged in the performance of his duty at the time he or she was in possession of the vehicle
The possession necessary for this crime may be actual or constructive possession. A person has actual possession of something if he or she has direct physical control over it, with knowledge of its nature. A person has constructive possession of something if he or she does not have direct physical control over it, but knowingly has both the power and the intent at a given time to exercise dominion or control over it, either by himself or herself, or through another person.
The law recognizes that possession may be sole or joint. A person has sole possession of an object is he or she alone has actual or constructive possession. If two or more persons share actual or constructive possession of an object, that possession is joint. Mere presence near something or mere knowledge of its location, by itself, is not enough to prove the possession. Furthermore, the element of possession is not conditioned on the length of time that a person has an item under control. Knowing or conscious contact with an item, even though fleeting or momentary, is sufficient to constitute the element of possession.
Potential Punishment if Convicted of Possession of a Stolen Vehicle in Rhode Island
Under Rhode Island law, a conviction for Possession of a Stolen Vehicle is a felony. Convicted offenders face potential imprisonment for not less than 1 year nor more than 5 years at the ACI. This penalty may be found at Rhode Island General Laws, Section 31-27-14.
If you have been charged with Possession of a Stolen Vehicle and need expert legal representation, contact the Rhode Island Motor Vehicle Defense Lawyers at the Law Office of John L. Calcagni III by email or call today at (401) 351-5100 to schedule a free consultation.