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Los Angeles Grand Theft Auto Lawyer

What is Grand Theft Auto?

Grand Theft Auto, also known as "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. Theft of a car is always "Grand Theft Auto," regardless of the value of the car.

California Grand Theft Auto Laws

In California, Grand Theft Auto is prosecuted under Penal Code section 487(d)(1). Grand Theft Auto is a "wobbler," meaning that it can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony. Whether a Grand Theft Auto charge is filed as a felony or misdemeanor will depend on certain circumstances such as:

  • the method in which the car was taken
  • the value of the car
  • the suspect's prior criminal history, specifically auto theft convictions

Is Joyriding Grand Theft Auto?

California prosecutors have an alternate method of prosecuting auto theft, other than Grand Theft Auto, and that is Vehicle Code section 10851, Unlawful Taking or Driving a Vehicle. This is also known as Joyriding. It is unlawful for a person to take or drive someone else's car (or another 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.

This type of auto theft can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony. The punishment for a misdemeanor is a maximum of one year in county jail and up to three years in state prison if a felony. The state prison sentence can also be served in Los Angeles County Jail under the recent California Sentencing Guidelines.

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. A misdemeanor carries a maximum sentence of one year in county jail.

Felony Grand Theft Auto Penalties in CA

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 and can also be served in Los Angeles County Jail under the recent California Sentencing Guidelines.

Misdemeanor Grand Theft Auto Penalties in CA

Misdemeanor Grand Theft Auto carries a maximum of one year in county jail.

Joyriding Charges in CA

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.

Difference Between Auto Theft and Grand Theft Auto

A suspect may be charged with Vehicle Theft (Vehicle Code 10851) if that suspect took the car with the intent to temporarily or permanently deprive the owner or possessor of the car.

If the suspect took the car with the intent to permanently deprive the owner or possessor of the car, the suspect would be charged with Grand Theft Auto under Penal Code 487(d)(1).

If the suspect took the car to a chop shop where the car was to be disassembled for individual car parts and later sold, this would be evidence of the intent to permanently deprive the owner of the car and Grand Theft Auto would be the appropriate charge.

Another example of the intent to permanently deprive the owner of the car occurs when a suspect fails to return a car that was rented from a car rental agency such as Hertz or Avis, until two months after the return date. Again, Grand Theft Auto would likely be charged.

Grand Theft Auto Defenses

There are a few defenses for Grand Theft Auto, including:

  • Owner consent: a taking of the vehicle must be against the owner's will, and consent negates that element
  • No specific intent to deprive: if the accused did NOT intend to keep the car (vehicle) permanently, but rather only planned to keep the vehicle temporarily, then the accused did not act with the specific intent to deprive the owner permanently.

Representation for Your Grand Theft Auto Charges

Being charged with Grand Theft Auto in Los Angeles is serious business. A skilled Los Angeles grand theft auto attorney can make all the difference in the outcome of your case. Any Grand Theft Auto-related conviction can have far-reaching consequences, including denial or loss of employment and professional license.

If you have been charged with or are under investigation for a theft crime, you should consult with an experienced legal team to learn what legal options are available. Attorneys Stephen G. Rodriguez & Partners have extensive experience in defending these types of cases. We are aggressive attorneys who will fight your case.

For your protection, do not talk to anyone about your case, until you have spoken with a knowledgeable Los Angeles grand theft auto defense attorney. Call our office and arrange for a free consultation to discuss the specific facts of your case.

When accused or arrested for grand theft auto, immediately contact a Los Angeles grand theft auto defense lawyer for aggressive legal representation. Initial consultations are free.

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