Jamil Campbell failed to stop at a stop sign in Boston, and he ended up being arrested for not being authorized to use a rental car, along with other charges. The rental car was impounded by police. Using a vehicle without authority is considered illegal in the Commonwealth. There is a gray area in this particular case because Campbell claims his mother gave him authority to use the vehicle and the rented car was officially in her name and not his. This case raises questions regarding who may grant authority to use a rental car, driving a rental car without permission, and the appropriate steps an arresting officer can take in this situation.
Use of a vehicle without authority in the Commonwealth is addressed under Massachusetts Law Chapter 90 Section 24. The law concludes that if you use a motor vehicle without the permission or authorization from its owner, you have committed a crime and you can be charged with use of a vehicle without authority. If you have been charged with such a crime, you should contact a reliable criminal defense attorney because this law can be complex and ambiguous. Your attorney may be able to get the charges dismissed. He or she can explain the key factors or elements that must be proven by the prosecution. According to Massachusetts Court 5.660 Instruction regarding the use of a vehicle without authority, the following elements must be proven in your case:
"The defendant is charged with knowingly using a motor vehicle
without authority. Section 24(2)(a) of chapter 90 of our General Laws
provides that “. . . whoever uses a motor vehicle without authority knowing
that such use is unauthorized . . .” shall be punished.
In order to prove the defendant guilty of this offense, the
Commonwealth must prove three things beyond a reasonable doubt:
First: That the defendant used a motor vehicle;
Second: That at the time he (she) used that motor vehicle, he (she)
did so without the permission of the owner, or the permission of some
other person who possessed the legal right of control ordinarily exercised
by the owner; and
Third: That at the time he (she) used the motor vehicle, the defendant
knew that he (she) was not authorized to use that vehicle.
A person “uses” a motor vehicle within the meaning of the law if he
rides in it, either as the driver or as a passenger. It is not necessary that the
defendant personally drove or controlled the vehicle, only that he (she)
rode in it while it moved. The Commonwealth may prove that the defendant was not authorized
to use the vehicle either by testimony from the owner or other person in
charge of the vehicle, or through inferences that you are reasonably able to
draw from all the circumstances.
Finally, the defendant must have known that his (her) use of the motor
vehicle was unauthorized. If it has been proved that the defendant was a
passenger in the vehicle, that fact alone does not establish that he (she)
knew that he (she) was not authorized to use it. You should consider all of
the circumstances, and any reasonable inferences which you can draw
from the evidence, in determining whether the defendant had actual
knowledge that his (her) use of the vehicle was unauthorized. If the
defendant did not know that his (her) use was unauthorized, you must find
him (her) not guilty. "
In Massachusetts, the punishment for the use of a vehicle without authority can have stiff consequences. When found guilty of a first offense, a person can serve a minimum of 30 days and up to two years in jail. He may have to pay fines up to $500. The consequences may be even harsher for second or third offenses.
If you have been charged with using a vehicle without authority and feel you have been wrongfully accused, you should speak with a criminal defense attorney immediately. The consequences can be devastating and may include jail or hefty fines, maybe both. Boston Criminal Defense Attorney, Edward Molari can provide you with legal advice that may help reduce the punishment or lessen the charge. He cares about your situation and provides personalized legal services in every case. Contact Attorney, Edward Molari at 617-942-1532 for a free consultation.