Grand Theft Defense Attorney
In 2013 there were 50,000 auto thefts in Los Angeles, and 362 in the City of Torrance alone. However, according to Los Angeles Police Department Crime Statistics, law enforcement personnel were able to recover 89% of vehicles that were stolen. Despite the high numbers of recovery, auto theft is still charged as a serious crime, and can result in substantial incarceration time.
Misdemeanor or Felony Charges
Violation of California Penal Code § 487(d)(1), more commonly known as grand theft auto “GTA”, is the unauthorized taking of a vehicle with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of said vehicle. In the legal community GTA is what we call a “wobbler,” meaning that the accused can be charged with either misdemeanor or a felony. The manner in which you are charged depends on a number of factors, including the circumstance of the case and the accused’s past criminal history; it is a decision left up to the prosecution. It is important to know that the value of the car is not the determining factor in deciding if the case is filed as a misdemeanor or a felony. Stealing a car valued at $4,000 can carry the same sentence as stealing a car valued at $40,000.
If convicted of a misdemeanor, the maximum sentence would be a year in county jail, a $5000.00 dollar fine, and possible restitution to the victim and/or law enforcement for the cost or recovering the vehicle.
If convicted of a felony, the minimum sentence allowed is 16 months, and carries a potential maximum of 3 years. The same restitution penalties that applied to a misdemeanor, apply to a felony conviction.
Proving Auto Theft
In order for the prosecution to prove a person guilty of grand theft auto, they must show that:
- the car was taken without the owner’s permission,
- and that the accused intended to permanently deprive the owner of the car.
The second requirement is particularly important. If the car was only taken out for a “spin” for couple hours and returned to the same area, it is possible to be charged with the lesser offense of joyriding.
Defense Lawyer for Auto Theft Offenses
Auto theft can also be accompanied by other offenses. Depending on the events of theft, the accused may face allegations of carjacking, burglary, and robbery. If convicted of these additional crimes, prison time and fines can increase dramatically.
Formulating a defense for auto theft and other contributing crimes can be challenging, but a lawyer who is familiar with these crimes will be able to advise you on the best course of action, and help you achieve the best possible outcome.
If you or a loved one has been charged with grand theft auto, you need and experienced criminal defense attorney on your side. At the Law Office of Andrew Bouvier-Brown we have the experience, knowledge, and skill to help guide you to the best possible outcome.
Hire a qualified, aggressive criminal defense attorney. Call our office today.