San Diego Grand Theft Auto Lawyer
Accused of Stealing a Car in San Diego County? Call Us
Car theft and grand theft auto in Southern California carry serious consequences. If you are convicted, you face serious penalties, including fines, prison time, and a permanent criminal record that can stop you from gaining employment, housing, and other benefits.
If you have been charged with car theft or grand theft auto, speak to an experienced San Diego theft attorney who can help. At JD Law, our lead attorney is a board-certified criminal defense specialist as well as a former LAPD narcotics investigator. We know how to defend crimes so those accused can move on with their lives, and we have had great success in the past getting our clients’ charges reduced or dismissed altogether. For a free consultation, please call today at (760) 630-2000.
Definition of Car Theft
Car theft is defined as the unlawful taking, stealing, or driving of a vehicle that belongs to another person. The law does differentiate between those who take another’s vehicle permanently, and those who take it temporarily. The first offense is unlawful taking or driving of a vehicle without the owner’s knowledge or consent, also known as joyriding. It is generally easier for the prosecution to prove this charge than it is to prove grand theft auto. They only have to prove that the accused took or drove the car for any period of time, and that the accused did not have the owner’s consent.
For the more serious charge of grand theft auto, also referred to as GTA, it must be proven that the accused unlawfully took another person’s vehicle without consent, and had no intention of returning the vehicle. The intent of the accused in a grand theft auto charge, the prosecution will try to prove, was to keep the vehicle, sell it, or sell the parts.
Penalties for Car Theft and Grand Theft Auto
Unlawful taking or driving of a vehicle will typically be charged as a misdemeanor if it is the accused’s first offense. This carries a punishment of up to one year in county jail. For a subsequent offence, unlawful taking of a vehicle may be prosecuted as a felony. The penalty for felony car theft is up to three years in state prison, although under new California sentencing guidelines, it may be possible for those convicted to serve this time in county jail instead.
If the car theft involved an ambulance, police cruiser, or a car with a handicapped permit inside, those convicted face two to four years in state prison. In addition, an extra year will be added if the person knew, or should have known, that the vehicle was an ambulance, police vehicle, or had a handicapped permit. There may also be additional penalties if the accused has prior car theft offenses on his criminal record.
Grand theft auto is known as a wobbler crime, meaning that it can either be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. Grand theft auto tends to be filed as a misdemeanor if the value of the vehicle stolen was under $950. When charged as a misdemeanor, those convicted of this crime could face up to one year in county jail. If grand theft auto is prosecuted as a felony, the accused could face between 16 months and three years in state prison.
Speak to Our Board-Certified Specialist
At JD Law, we know that many people charged with car theft or grand theft auto are innocent or made a simple mistake that they regret. If you have been charged with car theft or grand theft auto, call us today at (760) 630-2000 to speak to one of our qualified defense attorneys in a free consultation. We know how to fight to get these charges reduced or dismissed, and we will work hard to protect your rights and freedom.
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