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Criminal charges for the theft or attempted theft a motor vehicle are serious charges. It includes not only the outright theft of an automobile, but also by the unlawful taking possession of an abandoned vehicle, as well as taking a car for joy riding. Penalties can range in severity depending on the circumstances, but can certainly result in jail or prison time. Those charged with motor vehicle theft crimes, should consult a qualified legal counsel to assist in negotiation of the charges and possible sentencing issues.