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Unlawful Use Of A Motor Vehicle

What the law says

Sections 408A of the Criminal Code Queensland states:

  1. A person who-
    • (a) unlawfully uses any motor vehicle, aircraft or vessel without the consent of the person in lawful possession thereof; or
    • (b) has in the person's possession any motor vehicle, aircraft or vessel without the consent of the person in lawful possession thereof with intent to deprive the owner or person in lawful possession thereof of the use and possession thereof either temporarily or permanently

is guilty of a crime.

What the police must prove

In order for the Police to prove their case at Court, they must prove each of the following matters beyond a reasonable doubt.

408A (1)(a)

The accused:

  1. unlawfully used the vehicle
    "used" means used as a conveyance-that is, the accused travelled in it as the driver or passenger
  2. The person in lawful possession did not consent to its use
  3. The accused used it knowing the person in lawful possession of the vehicle would not consent to its use.

408A(1)(b)

The accused

  1. had the vehicle in his or her possession
  2. did not have the consent of the person in lawful possession of the vehicle
  3. knew that the person in lawful possession had not given consent to the accused having possession
  4. had the vehicle in his or her possession with the intent to deprive the person in lawful possession of the uses of the vehicle either temporarily or permanently

It will be necessary for the Police in every offence to prove that the accused was the person who committed the offence. Click here to learn more about identification evidence.

Maximum penalty

The Maximum penalty for the offence of Unlawful Use of a Motor Vehicle is 7 years imprisonment. 

If the offender uses or intends to use the motor vehicle, aircraft or vessel for the purpose of facilitating the commission of an indictable offence, the offender is liable to imprisonment for 10 years

 If the offender

  • (a) wilfully destroys, damages, removes or otherwise interferes with the mechanism (or part thereof) or other part of or equipment attached to the motor vehicle, aircraft or vessel; or
  • (b) intends to destroy, damage, remove or otherwise interfere with the mechanism (or part thereof) or other part or equipment attached to the motor vehicle, aircraft or vessel

they are liable to imprisonment for 12 years.

Which court will hear the matter

This matter is indictable and can be dealt with in the District Court or at the election of the accused, be dealt with in the Magistrates Court.

Possible defences

Possible defences to this offence include but are not limited to

  1. the accused had the lawful consent of the owner of the vehicle to its use.
  2. Honest claim of right.
  3. Identification ie. Not the accused
  4. Accused did not use or occupy the vehicle to the exclusion of the owner's rights.
  5. The vehicle is abandoned

Honest and reasonable belief that the accused had the consent of the owner or person in lawful possession.

Criminal Law Article written by: Bill Potts (a Queensland criminal defence lawyer who is experienced in Unlawful Use of a Motor Vehicle related matters)

 

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