Auto theft is defined as stealing, driving, or taking someone else’s vehicle without permission, with no intention of returning it. Auto theft, also called Grand Theft Auto, is charged when the stolen vehicle is worth over $400. There are two different laws that apply to auto theft.
- Felony Grand Theft Auto – Upon conviction, jail sentence up to 3 years in state prison, up to 3 years probation, restitution, and fines.
- Misdemeanor Grand Theft Auto – Often charged when there are no prior convictions. Carries up to a year jail sentence and up to 3 years probation, along with restitution, community service, and fines.
Additionally, anyone convicted of more than one grand theft auto charge will be subject to additional sentence increases. This is based on the California law called “Three Strikes Law”.
Law enforcement officials may arrest you for grand theft auto based on “probable cause”. This means that the police have knowledge of facts or circumstances that lead someone to reasonably believe that a crime has been committed. The prosecutor must be able to prove that the suspect drove or took a vehicle that does not belong to him, the vehicle was taken without the consent of the owner, and the vehicle was taken with the intent to keep it from the owner.
If you have been charged with grand theft auto it is essential that you get a good criminal defense attorney as quickly as possible. The attorney will work with you to defend you as strongly as possible. A conviction of felony grand theft auto can be devastating for your future. You may be unable to get a professional license and may even be denied employment.
A skilled criminal attorney will represent you throughout the entire process and will assist in your defense. Your attorney will be able to assist in requesting a lowered bail and in representing you to try to get the charges reduced.