In New York, crimes committed against a car that belongs to another person are called "Autostripping." Any accusations of autostripping must be met with an experienced New York City criminal lawyer. A person commits "Autostripping" when he "removes or intentionally destroys or defaces any part of a vehicle...without the permission of the owner." Common examples include not only keying someone's car or slashing or stealing tires, but also include breaking into a car to steal things from inside. "Autostripping" in its most basic form is "Autostripping in the Third Degree." This is a class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail.
A person commits another form of Autostripping in the Third Degree when he "intentionally removes or destroys any part of an abandoned vehicle. This is also a class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail. Pursuant to New York law, a vehicle is deemed to be "abandoned" when it is left unattended and when: (1) it has no license plates and it is left on a public highway for a period of six hours; (2) it is left somewhere in public for 24 hours and it is not left in a place where it can be legally parked at that location; (3) it is left for 48 hours after a point in which it is no longer legal to park at that location; or (4) it is left for 96 hours on the property of another person without his or her permission.
If a person has previously been convicted of "Autostripping" within the past five years and is accused of it again, he can be convicted of "Autostripping in the Second Degree," which is a class E felony punishable by up to four years in jail. In addition, it is also a class E felony to to "destroy, deface, disguise, or alter any part of two or more vehicles" and to cause more than $1,000 in damages to the vehicles.
A person can be convicted of "Autostripping in the First Degree" if he "destroys, defaces, disguises, or alters any part" of three or more vehicles and if the value of the damage is in excess of $3,000. This is a class D felony punishable by up to seven years in jail.
Autostripping accusations can be serious. They can also be accompanied by other charges. For example, if a person smashes the window of a car and then steals a cell phone from that car, he can be charged not only with Autostripping (for causing damage to the car), but he can also be charged with Criminal Mischief (for causing damage to property) as well Larceny and Criminal Possession of Stolen Property (for the stealing and illegal possession of the cell phone). Obviously, the value of the property taken and the amount of damage caused to the car will come into play in determining which level of charges should be brought.
Despite the severity of charges that may be applicable to Autostripping accusations, a good criminal defense attorney can help anyone accused of any crime in navigating the criminal justice system. Feel free to contact John Buza, an experienced New York lawyer, for a free consultation if you, or a loved one, is accused of this crime.