Have You Been Charged with Owning, Operating, or Conducting a Chop Shop in Georgia?
Owning, operating, or conducting a chop shop in Georgia is just one of the crimes a person can commit under theft crimes. It covers a wide variety of actions, and even an attempt to operate a chop shop is considered a felony. If you or a loved one has been charged with this statute, you need an experienced Georgia Chop Shop Lawyer today. Our attorneys at Lawson and Berry have over 50 years of experience and are prepared to handle your case. Call now for a free case evaluation.
What is a Chop Shop?
In Georgia, a chop shop is defined as any building, lot, or other premise where one or more persons knowingly engage in altering, destroying, disassembling, dismantling, reassembling, or storing any motor vehicle or motor vehicle part known to be illegally obtained by theft, fraud, or conspiracy to defraud in order to either:
A) Alter, counterfeit, deface, destroy, disguise, falsify, forge, obliterate, or remove the identification, including the vehicle identification number of such motor vehicle or motor vehicle part, in order to misrepresent the identity of such motor vehicle or motor vehicle part or to prevent the identification of such motor vehicle or motor vehicle part; or
(B) Sell or dispose of such motor vehicle or motor vehicle part.
O.C.G.A . § 16-8-82
O.C.G.A. § 16-8-83 reads as follows:
(a) Any person who knowingly and with intent:
(1) Owns, operates, or conducts a chop shop;
(2) Transports any motor vehicle or motor vehicle part to or from a location knowing it to be a chop shop; or
(3) Sells, transfers, purchases, or receives any motor vehicle or motor vehicle part either to or from a location knowing it to be a chop shop
will be guilty of owning, operating, or conducting a chop shop in Georgia.
However, a person can also be guilty of aiding and abetting with respect to operating a chop shop. A person who promotes who facilitates the commission of this crime or attempts to aid another in the planning or commission of a violation will be guilty of a felony. The penalty will be a prison term between one and five years, a fine up to $25,000.00, or by both.
Georgia Case Law
In the case of Maclin v. State, the accused was convicted of owning, operating, or conducting a chop shop. The accused received a vehicle that he did not own and sold it to another buyer. In addition, multiple parts of the car had been removed. The accused admitted that he removed parts of the engine and failed to replace them before selling the vehicle to the buyer. 287 Ga. App. 220, (2007).
Penalty for Operating or Owning a Chop Shop in Georgia
A person convicted of violating O.C.G.A. § 16-8-83 will be guilty of a felony. The punishment will be a prison term between three and ten years, a fine up to $100,000.00, or both.
In addition the prison term and fines, a person who violates this statute will be ordered to pay restitution to the owners of the stolen motor vehicle, the insurance, or to any other person for the financial loss sustained as a result of the violation. O.C.G.A. § 16-8-83(k)(1)
Defenses to Owning, Operating or Conducting a Chop Shop in Georgia
Lack of knowledge of the chop shop: Evidence of a lack of awareness that the property was being used for a chop shop would be greatly beneficial for your case. However, it is not a defense if you should have known that a chop shop was being operated.
Lack of ownership of the chop shop: If the chop shop does not, in fact, belong to you and there is proof to back it up, that would also be a defense to owning a chop shop in Georgia.
Alibi: An alibi proving that you could not have committed the alleged crimes would be beneficial in getting the charges dismissed.
What are Not Defenses
I did not directly participate in the chop shop: According to O.C.G.A. § 16-8-83(e-g), a person can be guilty of conspiracy, solicitation, or aiding and abetting a chop shop. It will still be considered a felony punished by a prison term between one and five years, a fine up to $25,000, or both.
If you have been charged with this crime or other property crime in Georgia, contact our lawyers now. We have dedicated our practice to defending those accused of a crime. We firmly believe in the basis of our justice system that everyone is innocent until proven guilty. Do not make the mistake of thinking being charged with a crime means that you will be convicted. There are numerous defenses we can use to support your case. Call now and see how we can help with your case.