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Lucy, Esq.
Lucy, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Traffic Law
Satisfied Customers: 29814
Experience:  Lawyer. Former judicial law clerk. Worked for District Attorney's Office in Traffic Court.
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What would the charges be if a person were caught driving a

Customer Question

What would the charges be if a person were caught driving a car that is actually in another persons name with a license plate belonging to a different car? The owner moved out of the country, left the car in good faith that a friend would be paying for
it, this friend did not make any payments, this was over 4 years ago. There are at least 2 years of payments left on the car. The car has been sitting, recently this friend put a plate belonging to a different vehicle onto this car and is now driving it. would
the car be considered stolen by the finance company? What sort of charges would he encounter if he were stopped by police while driving this car? Thank you.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Traffic Law
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
I'm Lucy, and I'd be happy to answer your questions today.
If the driver has permission to drive the car, then the car isn't stolen. The finance company can repossess the car due to non-payment (depending on whether the statute of limitations has expired), but the driver may be able to beat theft charges for the car itself. There would have to be some evidence that the person in possession of the car conspired with the owner to avoid paying for it, or it's a civil breach of contract issue.
With that said, they could still be charged with possession of stolen property for driving a car with stolen license plate if the plate on the car didn't belong to him. Or the state can charge him with a registration violation. If the car is not registered and insured, they'll also charged for lack of insurance. Those are misdemeanors, too.
Whenever there are multiple charges, a local attorney may be able to help negotiate a plea bargain where some are dismissed in exchange for a plea on others. If the driver cannot afford an attorney, the judge will appoint one for him at no cost.
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