Attorney Eric D. Puryear

Federal Stolen Motor Vehicle and Chop Shop Charges

Puryear Law » Legal Blog » Federal Criminal Law » Federal Stolen Motor Vehicle and Chop Shop Charges

Trafficking in certain motor vehicles or motor vehicle parts, or operating a chop shop, is a Federal offense under 18 U.S.C. § 2321 and 18 U.S.C. § 2322, respectively:


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18 U.S.C. § 2321 provides as follows:

(a) Whoever buys, receives, possesses, or obtains control of, with intent to sell or otherwise dispose of, a motor vehicle or motor vehicle part, knowing that an identification number for such motor vehicle or part has been removed, obliterated, tampered with, or altered, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.

(b) Subsection (a) does not apply if the removal, obliteration, tampering, or alteration—
(1) is caused by collision or fire; or
(2) is not a violation of section 511 of this title.
(c) As used in this section, the terms “identification number” and “motor vehicle” have the meaning given those terms in section 511 of this title.


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18 U.S.C. § 2322 provides as follows:

(a) In General.—
(1)Unlawful action.—
Any person who knowingly owns, operates, maintains, or controls a chop shop or conducts operations in a chop shop shall be punished by a fine under this title or by imprisonment for not more than 15 years, or both. If a conviction of a person under this paragraph is for a violation committed after the first conviction of such person under this paragraph, the maximum punishment shall be doubled with respect to any fine and imprisonment.
(2)Injunctions.—
The Attorney General shall, as appropriate, in the case of any person who violates paragraph (1), commence a civil action for permanent or temporary injunction to restrain such violation.

(b)Definition.—
For purposes of this section, the term “chop shop” means any building, lot, facility, or other structure or premise where one or more persons engage in receiving, concealing, destroying, disassembling, dismantling, reassembling, or storing any passenger motor vehicle or passenger motor vehicle part which has been unlawfully obtained in order to alter, counterfeit, deface, destroy, disguise, falsify, forge, obliterate, or remove the identity, including the vehicle identification number or derivative thereof, of such vehicle or vehicle part and to distribute, sell, or dispose of such vehicle or vehicle part in interstate or foreign commerce.


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As the above portions of the US Code make clear, Federal Stolen Motor Vehicle and Chop Shop charges are a serious matter that can result in a lengthy prison term and a large fine.  Any person who is accused of such crimes at the Federal level is well advised to exercise their right to remain silent and seek an attorney at once, as it is of the utmost importance to handle such a case properly.


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