When a vehicle is transferred to another person intending to commit fraud or harm the vehicle’s owner, in Texas, this is a crime. It is referred to as the fraudulent transfer of a motor vehicle, and you could be arrested if charged with this crime. If you have been accused of a fraudulent transfer of a motor vehicle offense, contact our criminal defense lawyers in Houston. It is best to seek legal counsel immediately.
Fraudulent transfer of a motor vehicle, as defined in Penal Code Section §32.34, tells us that an offense is committed if a person obtains or exercises control of a motor vehicle through written or oral means to arrange for the transfer of the car to a third party while knowing the vehicle is a security interest, leased or has a lien against it. This means this is done without letting the creditor or leaseholder know this is taking place.
There is an intent to defraud or take advantage of the vehicle’s owner, so the vehicle is transferred to a third party. To defraud the vehicle’s owner, the person transfers the vehicle to a third party to dispose of the car, truck, or SUV. If the person refuses to share the vehicle’s location with the vehicle owner, the secured creditor, or the leaseholder, this is part of the offense.
If any of the elements described above have been performed, the state attorney may charge the defendant with the fraudulent transfer of a motor vehicle. When the vehicle is valued at less than $30,000, then a conviction could see the defendant facing a state jail felony, meaning they could do up to two years in jail and owe fines of up to $10,000.
Vehicles valued at $30,000 but not as much as $150,000, then the crime is punished as a third-degree felony. In Texas, this would mean fines of up to $10,000 and a sentence of ten years in prison.
If the vehicle’s value is in excess of $150,000 but less than $300,000, the charge is a second-degree felony with a maximum fine of $10,000 and a possible twenty-year prison sentence.
For vehicles with a value of $300,000 or more, the fraudulent transfer of a motor vehicle will be charged as a felony of the first degree. This would mean, if convicted, the defendant must pay the maximum fine of $10,000 and could serve up to life in prison.
If you or a loved one is facing charges of fraudulent transfer of a motor vehicle, the Law Office of David A. Breston is ready to defend you. Contact us today, and we can examine the specifics of your particular case and determine the best mode of defense. We will do our best to negotiate with the state prosecutor to have the charges against you dismissed or reduced, but we are ready to go to trial to fight for your freedom if necessary.