SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – State Rep. Fran Hurley, D-Chicago, recently introduced legislation that will close a loophole requiring prosecutors from proving the alleged car thief had prior knowledge that the vehicle was stolen.
“Currently, in order to convict an individual for Possession of a Stolen Motor Vehicle, the prosecution must prove that the person possessing the vehicle knew that it was stolen,” Hurley said. “Often times, this can be an incredibly difficult to prove because the individual arrested for the crime has the ability to make a claim that they were just borrowing the car from a friend. This is an opportunity for those being charged with car theft to simply use an excuse to be acquitted from a serious, criminal act.”
The Hurley-backed House Bill 4729 shifts the law’s focus to the victim of the car theft, and creates the opportunity to pursue vehicle theft charges where the offender is caught driving a stolen vehicle without the owner’s consent. The proposed change empowers victims who had their cars taken unlawfully, and too often violently, to obtain justice and full restitution in court. This legislation will also help law enforcement agencies targeting the theft of vehicles that are later sold illegally or junked for scrap or parts. Hurley believes victims should have a voice and wants to ensure that legislation is put in place to protect their rights and give them the opportunity to seek justice.
“I will continue to support legislation that will help limit criminal activity taking place,” Hurley said. “By advancing similar legislation, we can continue to make Illinois a safer place for residents, as well as supporting law enforcement to successfully do their jobs.”