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General Laws

Section 139. (a) Whoever intentionally and maliciously removes, defaces, alters, changes, destroys, obliterates or mutilates or causes to be removed or destroyed or in any way defaced, altered, changed, obliterated or mutilated, the identifying number or numbers of a motor vehicle or trailer shall be punished by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars or by imprisonment in the state prison for not more than three years, or both. The possession of any motor vehicle or trailer by a person who knows, should know, or has reason to know that the identifying number or numbers of such vehicle has been removed, defaced, altered, changed, destroyed, obliterated or mutilated shall be a prima facie evidence of a violation of this paragraph.

(b) Whoever sells, transfers, distributes, dispenses or otherwise disposes of or attempts to sell, transfer, distribute, dispense or otherwise dispose of any motor vehicle or trailer or motor vehicle part knowing or having reason to believe that the identifying number or numbers to said motor vehicle, trailer, or vehicle part have been so removed, defaced, altered, changed, destroyed, obliterated, or mutilated, unless authorized by law to do so, shall be punished by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars or by imprisonment in the state prison for not more than three years, or both.

(c) Whoever buys, receives, possesses, or obtains control of a motor vehicle, trailer, or motor vehicle part knowing or having reason to believe that an identifying number to said vehicle, trailer, or vehicle part has been removed, obliterated, tampered with, or altered, unless authorized by law to do so, shall be punished by a fine of not more than five hundred dollars or by imprisonment in a house of correction for not more than two years, or both.

The phrase “identifying number or numbers”, as used in this section, shall mean the manufacturer’s number or numbers identifying the motor vehicle, trailer or motor vehicle part as required to be contained in an application for registration by section two of chapter ninety, including the identifying number or numbers as restored or substituted under authority of section thirty-two A of said chapter ninety or similar law of another state.

An officer authorized to make arrests may arrest without warrant any person who he has probable cause to believe has committed or is committing a violation of the provisions of this section.

A conviction of a violation of this section or any adjudication that a person is a delinquent child by reason thereof shall be reported forthwith by the court or magistrate to the registrar of motor vehicles who shall revoke immediately the license to operate motor vehicles or the right to operate motor vehicles of the person so convicted or adjudged, and no appeal, motion for new trial or exceptions shall operate to stay the revocation of such license or right to operate. The registrar of motor vehicles after having revoked the license or right to operate of any such person so convicted or adjudged shall issue a new license or reinstate such right to operate, if the prosecution of such person is finally terminated in his favor; otherwise, no new license shall be issued nor shall such right to operate be reinstated until sixty days after the date of revocation following his original conviction or adjudication if for a first offense, or until one year after the date of revocation following any subsequent conviction or adjudication.

Whoever takes and carries away the registration plate that is attached to the vehicle of another or is assigned by the registry of motor vehicles to another shall be punished by a fine of not less than $500 nor more than $1,000 or imprisonment in the house of correction for not more than 21/2 years, or both.

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