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  • Writer's pictureCreevey Horrell Lawyers


Updated: Oct 11, 2022

Theft, stealing or unlawful use or possession of a motor vehicle are criminal offences in Queensland. ‘Car theft,’ ‘stolen cars’ and ‘unlawful use of motor vehicles’ are common areas of concern and discussion amongst certain areas of Queensland.

What does it take to commit these offences?

What are the maximum penalties, possible defences and ramifications for those accused?

Facing the Consequences of Motor Vehicle Crime

Stealing a Car

If a person is found guilty of stealing a car, the offender is liable to a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison.

Unlawful Use or Possession of a Motor Vehicle

‘Unlawful use’ is proven if the lawful owner of the vehicle did not consent to the use – and/or the accused had intention to deprive the owner of their vehicle to use it for their personal gain either permanently or temporarily.

If the above is proven, the maximum penalty in Queensland is 7 years in prison.

In addition, if the offender uses the vehicle with the intention of committing an indictable offence – the maximum penalty is then 10 years in prison.

Further, if the offender:

(a) wilfully destroys, damages, removes or otherwise interferes with the mechanism (or part thereof) or other part of or equipment attached to the motor vehicle, aircraft or vessel; or

(b) intends to destroy, damage, remove or otherwise interfere with the mechanism (or part thereof) or other part of or equipment attached to the motor vehicle, aircraft or vessel;

the offender is liable to imprisonment for 12 years. (Criminal Code 1899, section 408A, (1B)).

Possible Defences

There are possible defences available to those accused of unlawful use or possession of a motor vehicle.

These include, but are not limited to:

  • mistaken identity (i.e. the accused is not at fault);

  • honest claim of right (where the defendant believes they hold a legal entitlement to the property);

  • the vehicle in question was already abandoned; or

  • the accused received lawful consent from the lawful owner of the vehicle.

The Options

If you have been accused of unlawful use or possession of a motor vehicle in Queensland, or other motor vehicle-related charge, you need to take action as soon as possible.

A criminal lawyer will help you face the courts, assess your situation, aid in possible defences and provide you with peace of mind that you are securing a far better outcome for yourself; than if you were to go without.

No one is ever ready to face the courts on their own.

Please, if you require urgent assistance, reach out to our 24/7 dedicated crime hotline today on 1800 2746 3529. Or contact us to discuss your situation.

Leading Queensland Traffic Offence and Criminal Law Firm Now in Townsville

We are proud to announce that Creevey Russell Lawyers are open and operating in Townsville. Our dedicated Crime & Misconduct team and Traffic Offences team are now expansive over four locations across Queensland, providing expert representation to all who need it most.

With more than 50 years of combined experience in criminal law matters, we have a proven record of accomplishment of achieving outstanding results for our clients.


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