What Exactly is Considered a Chop Shop?
It is illegal by both state and federal law to knowingly operate a chop shop.
A chop shop is an auto body shop or auto repair shop that operates to remove the identifying information from stolen vehicles and sell or dispose of the stolen vehicles to sell or dispose of the parts.
Are Chop Shops Illegal in Nevada
Knowingly operating a chop shop in Nevada to abstain stolen vehicles for resale or to sell or strip for parts is illegal in Nevada.
Most chop shops are auto body shops or auto mechanic shops that operate as legitimate businesses that are open to the public and run as actual businesses during the day, but become an illegal shop after hours.
Other chop shops are illegally run shops that are in hidden areas and just drop off locations for stolen vehicles.
These are places that are not accessible to the general public and are known only to local car thefts.
It is also a federal crime to operate a chop shop.
So if you are arrested for operating an illegal chop shop in Nevada you can also be charged for a federal crime in federal court.
Typically however, the defendant won’t be charged in both federal and state court but rather one or the other.
Usually federal prosecutors will leave it to the state to prosecute the case.
Federal prosecutors will usually get involved when other more serious crimes are involved.
Penalties for Operating a Chop Shop in Nevada
Operating an illegal chop shop is considered a Category C felony punishable by up to 1 to 5 years in prison and a fine of anywhere between $10,000 and $50,000 at the judge’s discretion.
The DA may consider reducing or even dismissing the case based on evidence and circumstances.
An experienced defense attorney that has a history with the DA’s office can meet with to discuss a plea bargain or dismissal.
Federal penalties can also be prosecuted in federal court as well, but usually defendants will be prosecuted in one or the other.
Federal penalties can include for the first offense a fine at the judges discretion and up to 15 years in federal prison.
The second and subsequent offenses include a fine and up to 30 years in federal prison.
Defenses of Operating a Chop Shop in Nevada
There are five common defenses against the charge of knowingly operating an illegal chop shop in Nevada.
- The defendant did not operate a chop shop- The law only pertains to owners and operators of the chop shop. If you were an employee for example for a cleaning crew you may not face prosecution since you may not have had any knowledge of the chop shop operation.
- The business does not qualify as a chop shop- There are very specific definitions of what qualifies as a chop shop. If these criteria are not met and the defense attorney can prove that the vehicle or parts were legally obtained then this cannot be considered a chop shop.
- The defendant had no knowledge that the vehicles or parts were stolen- The law requires that the defendant has knowledge that the parts or vehicles are stolen. If the defendant genuinely has had no knowledge that the vehicles or parts are stolen then the charges should be dropped.
- The defendant did not know that the business was being used as an illegal chop shop- Sometimes in very rare cases the employees may be operating an illegal chop shop without the owner’s knowledge. If the defense can prove that the owner had no knowledge and the employees were using the shop for illegal activities then the charges can be dismissed. This however is a very hard case to prove.
- The chop shop was discovered during an illegal search- Sometimes the police will search illegally without a warrant. If the police discover the chop shop while conducting a search without a warrant or while searching for another crime then the defense can file a motion to suppress evidence that is obtained during that search. Without the evidence from that search sometimes the charges can be dismissed.
Hiring a good defense team to represent you if you are charged with operating a chop shop can mean the difference between prison time and either a plea bargain or even a dismissal.
Since chop shops usually involve the sale of stolen merchandise there are several offenses that can be charged along with operating a chop shop.
Charges are stacked on a defendant to almost ensure a conviction of one or the other changes.
Below are the charges most commonly charged alongside a chop shop charge.
- Grand Larceny of an automobile- Or Grand Theft Auto- Stealing a car is a class C felony and can result in 1 to 5 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine and restitution for the first offense.
- Burglary- Defined in Nevada as entering a vehicle or building with the intent to commit any of the following
- Petit Larceny or Grand larceny ( stealing)
- Assault or battery on a person
- Any other felony
- Obtaining money or property by false pretenses
Burglary is a felony and the penalties depend on the place and severity of the crime.
Possession of burglary tools- this has two elements to be considered a crime.
The defendant makes, repairs, or possesses tools that are used in the commission of a crime.
The defendant had intent to use the tools to commit a crime.
This is considered a misdemeanor that carries up to 364 days in jail and up to a $2000 fine.
Automobile insurance fraud- Falsely claiming a vehicle was stolen or damaged is insurance fraud and a crime.
When people operate a chop shop sometimes they use insurance fraud.
This is a felony with penalties between 1 to 4 years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000 fine.
Possessing a stolen vehicle-knowingly having possession of a stolen vehicle is a felony in Nevada carrying a prison term of 1 to 5 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine and restitution.
Why Hire The Defenders
We offer 24 hour a day service and a free case review.
We use our own investigative team to gather evidence to defend the charges against you.
We handle all court appearances for our clients.
We have a good reputation with the prosecutor’s office and can get your charges reduced or even dismissed based on the evidence.
We can stop deportation and even get the charges sealed in the future.
We can take a case all the way to trala or get a plea bargain based on our clients wishes.
We have experienced defense attorneys on staff who can defend any crime including operating a chop shop, possession of a stolen vehicle, burglary or any crime associated with a chop shop.
Call for a free case review today.