Criminal Convictions in relation to car and vehicle offences

Car Crime in the United Kingdom

There are various criminal offences which can occur under the laws of England and Wales in relation to the use of cars. These criminal offences in relation to cars will have criminal intent as their motive.

Are these offences the same as traffic laws?

These criminal offences are not the same as traffic law offences as there will be an intention to commit criminal activity. When motorists break traffic laws they will not intending criminal conduct as these laws are simply intended to ensure the safety of all road users.

What does car crime involve?

Car crime can involve damage to property, personal injury and in other cases death.

What are the possible criminal offences committed in relation to cars and other vehicles?

The possible criminal offences in relation to cars and other vehicles are as follows:

  • Car theft
  • Taking a conveyance without authority
  • Aggravated vehicle taking

Car Theft

In order to convict an individual of theft in relation to any property there is a number of factors which need to be proven. One of the most important factors to prove is that the intention of the individual was to permanently deprive the owner of the property.

How is car theft dealt with by the UK criminal law?

Car theft is dealt with by Section 1 of the Theft Act 1968 in the same way as any other theft under UK criminal law. Accordingly all the elements for theft must be established and the appropriate sentencing will apply.

Taking a conveyance without authority

There is another widespread criminal offence in the United Kingdom which cannot be covered by theft under Section 1 of the Theft Act. This offence is referred to as taking a conveyance without authority but is more commonly known as joy riding.

Why can this offence not be covered by Section 1 of the Theft Act?

This offence cannot be covered by the offence of theft as in this case there is no intention to permanently deprive the owner of the property.

When individuals commit this crime there is no intention to permanently deprive as after a few hours of the car being taken the car will be abandoned.

Accordingly Section 12 of the Theft Act has created the offence of taking a conveyance without authority stating that an individual will be guilty of a criminal offence to without the owner’s consent or other lawful authority taking a conveyance for his own use or for another person’s use.

This therefore removes the requirement for the car to be permanently deprived from the owner.

Will I be guilty of this offence if I am the passenger in such as vehicle?

An individual who allows themselves to be carried in such a vehicle where they know it has been taken without authority will also be guilty of this offence.

What is meant by the term conveyance?

The term conveyance is a term which is taken to include any carriage which is adapted to carry passengers.

Accordingly this will also include ships and aircraft.

What is meant by the term taking?

In this context the term taking is taken to mean taking possession and also has a requirement that the conveyance is physically moved.

If I am convicted of this offence what is the likely sentence?

The maximum prison sentence for an individual convicted of this criminal offence is six months and / or a fine of £2,500.

What factors will the court take into consideration when imposing a sentence?

In most cases the actual sentence will reflect the seriousness of the offence. In a case where the owner of the car is a vulnerable person who relies heavily on their car the court is likely to be more severe. The court is also likely to be more severe in the situation whereby the offender has previous convictions.

Aggravated vehicle taking

The offence of aggravated vehicle taking will be committed by individuals who are joy-riding when they drive dangerously on a road or other public places and cause damage to the vehicle, other property or cause personal injury.

If I am convicted of this offence what is the likely sentence?

This is another offence which the courts take extremely seriously. Depending upon the circumstances someone who has been convicted of these offences may receive one of the following sentences:

  • A prison sentence of up to two years or 13 years if someone was killed in the accident or an unlimited fine if convicted on indictment
  • A £5000 fine and / or six months imprisonment for a summary conviction
  • An automatic disqualification of 12 months
  • The individual’s licence being endorsed with 3 to 11 points