Los Angeles Grand Theft Auto ... It's Not A Game!

Posted By Stephen G. Rodriguez & Partners ||

Grand Theft Auto (California Penal Code section 487(d)(1) is a serious crime in Los Angeles. If convicted, you could face some stern consequences. Grand Theft Auto “GTA” is charged when someone takes another person's vehicle without the owner's permission and with the intent to deprive the owner of the vehicle permanently or for a period of time long enough to deprive the owner of a major portion of the value or enjoyment of the vehicle. Grand Theft Auto can also occur when someone takes possession of a vehicle by trick or deceit. Grand Theft Auto is not limited to cars. It includes trucks, campers, RVs and boats.

There is an alternate vehicle theft crime also used by prosecutors: Unlawful Taking or Driving of a Vehicle, also known as Joyriding classified under California Penal Code section 10851. This vehicle theft occurs when someone takes or drives another person's vehicle without the owner's consent. Although this crime appears to be similar to Grand Theft Auto, the main difference lies in the fact that the thief in a Grand Theft Auto scenario steals the vehicle with no intention of returning it to the owner while in a Joyriding scenario the thief is taking a vehicle without intending to keep it. Grand Theft Auto is a more serious crime.

Punishment For Grand Theft Auto

Both Grand Theft Auto and Unlawful Taking or Driving of a Vehicle or Joyriding may be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the circumstance of your case, and whether you have any prior vehicle theft convictions. Generally, Grand Theft Auto is usually charged as a felony in Los Angeles, potentially resulting in a sentence of 16 months to 3 years in state prison. Misdemeanor Grand Theft Auto carries a maximum of one year in county jail. Joyriding is generally charged as a misdemeanor for first-time offenders. This usually results in a $5,000 fine, and/or a maximum of one (1) year imprisonment in county jail. If Joyriding is charged as a felony then the punishment is 16 months to 3 years in prison. High-value vehicles worth more than $65,000 will result in an additional year in the prison sentence. The prison sentence extends by 2 more years if the car is worth more than $200,000.

Legal Defenses

One of the strongest legal defenses to Grand Theft Auto is having the owner's consent. If the owner of the car gave consent or permission to use the car then the defendant cannot be convicted of Grand Theft Auto. This is because the defendant did not have the intent to permanently deprive the owner of the car. The other defense has to do with Intent. If the defendant had no specific intent to deprive the owner of the vehicle even temporarily there would be no Grand Theft Auto. Under those circumstances, a prosecutor would likely charge Unlawful Taking or Driving of a Vehicle or Joyriding.

Our Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyers Can Help You

If you or someone you know is being investigated, arrested or charged with a criminal case involving auto theft in Los Angeles, we will use our 75 + years of combined criminal law experience and knowledge of the criminal justice system to put together a strong defense strategy and get you the best results possible.

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