If you have been charged with unlawful use of a motor vehicle in Queensland, it is important to understand what this means for you from a legal standpoint, the potential penalties you may be facing, as well as any defences that may be available to you.
While we have shared the consequences for driving on a suspended licence, as well as being drunk while in charge of a vehicle, below we will share what you need to know about unlawful use of a motor vehicle in Queensland and discuss some of the options available to individuals facing these charges.
What is Unlawful Use of a Motor Vehicle in Queensland?
Unlawful use of a motor vehicle is defined and governed by the Queensland Criminal Code Act 1899.
Section 408A of the Act defines unlawful use of a motor vehicle or vessel as occurring when a person uses a motor vehicle without the owner’s consent, or with the intention to steal the vehicle. The word “use” refers to travelling in the car, either as a driver or as a passenger. This charge can apply to any type of motor vehicle, including cars, motorcycles, and even boats.
If you are found guilty of this crime, you could face serious penalties, including jail time and hefty fines.
Consequences of Unlawful Use of a Motor Vehicle in Queensland
The consequences of unlawful use of a motor vehicle in Queensland depend on the specific circumstances of the case and the defendant’s criminal history. If you are found guilty of this crime, you could face the following penalties:
Imprisonment: Depending on the severity of the case, you could be sentenced to imprisonment for a maximum of seven years.
Fines: You could be ordered to pay a fine of up to $5,500, or an amount equal to three times the value of the motor vehicle involved in the case.
Community service: The court may order you to complete a certain number of hours of community service as part of your sentence.
Licence suspension or disqualification: If you are convicted of unlawful use of a motor vehicle, you could lose your driver’s licence or have it suspended for a certain period of time.
There are further penalties that apply, if while unlawfully using the motor vehicle, the offender;
- Uses or intends to use the motor vehicle, aircraft or vessel for the purpose of facilitating the commission of an indictable offence. Here, the offender is liable to imprisonment for 10 years.
- 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 of or equipment attached to the motor vehicle, aircraft or vessel. Here, the offender is liable to imprisonment for 12 years.
Defences to Unlawful Use of a Motor Vehicle in Queensland
There are a number of defences that may be available if you have been charged with unlawful use of a motor vehicle in Queensland, depending on the specific circumstances of your case. Some common defences include:
Lack of intent: The prosecution must be able to prove that you had the intention to steal the vehicle or use it without the owner’s consent. If you can show that you did not have this intention, it may be possible to have any charges dismissed.
Mistaken identity: If you have been incorrectly identified as the offender, you should be able to use the defence that you are a victim of mistaken identity.
Duress: You may be able to use the defence of duress if you were under threat or coercion at the time of the alleged crime. This means that you were forced to commit the crime against your will.
Have you been charged with Unlawful Use of a Motor Vehicle in Queensland and need Assistance?
If you have been charged with unlawful use of a motor vehicle in Queensland, it is important to seek legal advice from experienced criminal defence lawyers as soon as possible.
At Guest Lawyers, we are one of the leading criminal law firms in Brisbane, having worked with many clients to successfully navigate the complex legal process and provide representation in relation to a number of serious traffic and criminal matters, including dangerous driving, drink driving and assault and violent crime. We invite you to get in touch for an obligation free consultation to know where you stand.