California Grand Theft Auto Crime Laws
Back in 1993, the state of California led the nation in the number of vehicle thefts, with 21% of the total vehicles stolen throughout the United States. Orange County accounted for 10.4% of the vehicles stolen in California, and this led to losses of more than $100,000,000 for Orange County victims and insurance companies. Fast forward to 2011, and there were only 6,344 motor vehicle thefts in Orange County. This number represented only 4% of the statewide auto thefts in 2011, and this is partially due to the efforts of the Orange County Auto Theft Task Force (OCATT). Over the past 20 years, this task force has arrested more than 1,000 suspects involved in the theft and sale of stolen motor vehicles.
These criminal acts are commonly referred to as grand theft auto, which is defined under California Penal Code §487(d)(1) as the theft of an automobile of any kind, regardless of the estimated market value of the motor vehicle. This offense is also defined in the California Vehicle Code §10851 as taking a vehicle that does not belong to the defendant. This offense is also referred to as "joyriding". Both of these laws can be used to charge individuals with the crime of grand theft auto, and it is important to understand the exact details of these laws if you have been charged with this theft crime.
Is Auto Theft a Misdemeanor or Felony Offense in California?
After an arrest, you should take action immediately and contact a skilled Orange County theft lawyer who has experience handling these types of cases. There are two different ways that your auto theft case may be handled. If the prosecution can prove that your intention was to temporarily deprive the owner of the vehicle, your case will likely be tried as joyriding under the California Vehicle Code. This is a misdemeanor charge with potential penalties of up to $5,000 in fines, imprisonment for up to one year, or both.
The more serious grand theft auto offense is outlined in California Penal Code §487(d)(1). You can be accused of this serious offense if the prosecutor can prove that your actions were meant to be a permanent theft. This offense can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on the circumstances of your case and whether you have any prior convictions for theft or other offenses. If your grand theft auto case is tried as a felony, you may face potential penalties of sixteen months, two years, or three years in jail.
The Law Office of Jacqueline Goodman Grand Theft Auto Legal Counsel
Without the help of a skilled Orange County theft attorney, you may be defenseless against the evidence that the prosecution presents against you. Instead of trying to handle your case by yourself, you should contact the Law Offices of Jacqueline Goodman as soon as you learn of your criminal charges. There are several different defense strategies that may be effective in reducing or dismissing your charges, and a skilled defense lawyer can help you build a compelling strategy for your charges.
Attorney Jacqueline Goodman has gained a comprehensive understanding of these charges and how to defend the rights of the accused. Depending on the circumstances surrounding your arrest, we may be able to prove that you did not actually intend to steal, that the car actually belonged to you, or that you were falsely accused. In some situations, we can prove that the person who owned the car gave their consent to you taking the vehicle.
Whatever charges you may find yourself facing, you can count on The Law Offices of Jacqueline Goodman to fight aggressively to protect your rights and your future. Call now - (866) 294-8952.