402 W. Broadway, Suite 1300, San Diego, CA 92101
California law distinguishes grand theft from petty theft by the value of the goods allegedly stolen. Grand theft occurs when the value of the goods stolen is over $950. Petty theft occurs when the value of the goods stolen is under $950. Grand theft auto (“GTA”) is a form of grand theft that occurs when a person intentionally takes a car worth over $950 that belongs to another person without their permission. Conversely, taking a car worth less than $950 is considered only petty theft in California.
Grand theft auto charges are serious and can result in substantial fines and prison time. If you or a loved one have been charged with grand theft auto or any other criminal offense, call the Law Offices of David R. Silldorf today to schedule your free consultation and begin building your defense strategy.
It is critical to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney who will do everything possible to defend your rights and protect your future. We’ve helped hundreds of clients fight their cases resulting in acquittal, dismissal, reduced charges, and other positive outcomes. Give our grand theft auto defense attorneys a call today and find out how we will fight to protect your rights.
California Penal Code § 487(d)(1) defines the offense of grand theft auto as intentionally taking a car that belongs to another person without their permission. To secure a conviction for grand theft auto, the prosecutor must be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:
(1) the defendant took a car belonging to another person;
(2) without the true owner’s permission;
(3) with the intent to keep the car permanently or for a substantial period of time;
(4) the car was worth $950 or more, and
(5) the car was moved in some manner.
The most important factor that comes into play in a grand theft auto case is the element of intent. The prosecutor must be able to prove that the defendant took the car with the intent to deprive the true owner of it either permanently or for a substantial period of time. A “substantial period of time” means any period of time that would deprive the true owner of the car’s value or use.
You can be convicted of grand theft auto even if you took the car for only a brief period of time and were caught shortly after. It does not matter how long you actually had the car in your possession so long as the prosecutor can prove you intended to take it either permanently or for a substantial period of time.
Grand theft auto is a “wobbler” offense under California law, which means it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the alleged conduct involved and the value of the property stolen. It is up to the discretion of the prosecutor to decide how these cases will be charged. Prosecutors often consider both the circumstances of the instant offense and the defendant’s prior convictions for auto theft or related offenses when making charging decisions in grand theft auto cases.
If convicted of misdemeanor grand theft auto, you face a penalty of up to one year in county jail. If convicted of felony grand theft auto, you face a penalty of up to three years in state prison. It is possible for the judge to enhance the penalties in a grand theft auto case if the car that was stolen was of high monetary value. For example, a judge may order an additional one year of jail time if the car was worth more than $65,000 and an additional two years of jail time if the car was worth over $200,000.
California law recognizes several other auto theft crimes that are often charged in addition to grand theft auto. In any case involving auto theft, it is important to hire a criminal defense attorney who is experienced in these matters and prepared for the potential litigation involved. Call the Law Offices of David R. Silldorf today to begin building your auto theft defense and learn how we will fight to protect your rights.
Below are some of the most common auto theft crimes that you can be charged with in California:
California Penal Code § 215 defines carjacking as the taking of a car in the possession of another, from his or her person or immediate presence, or from the person or immediate presence of a passenger of the car, against his or her will and with the intent to either permanently or temporarily deprive the person in possession of the car of his or her possession, accomplished by means of force or fear.
Carjacking is a felony offense under California law, and if convicted, you face a penalty of up to nine years in state prison with stiff fines depending on the value of the car stolen. Carjacking is recognized as a more severe offense than grand theft auto because it requires the defendant to use force or fear in order to accomplish the offense. Carjacking is considered a serious violent offense under California Law. It is classified as a “strike” offense and will be used to increase penalties on any future convictions.
California Vehicle Code § 10851 states that any person who drives or takes a car not his or her own, without the consent of the owner thereof, and with intent either to permanently or temporarily deprive the owner thereof of his or her title to or possession of the car, whether with or without intent to steal the car, or any person who is a party or an accessory to or an accomplice in the driving or unauthorized taking or stealing, is guilty of joyriding.
Joyriding is a misdemeanor offense under California law, and if convicted, you face a penalty of up to one year in county jail and a fine of $5,000. Joyriding becomes a felony, however, if (1) the car taken was an ambulance, police car, or any other marked emergency service car; or (2) if the car had been modified for the use of a person with disabilities, had license plates displaying the fact that the owner had disabilities, and this fact was known or should have reasonably been known to the person committing the instant offense. If convicted of felony joyriding, you face a penalty of up to four years in state prison and a fine of $10,000.
Any case involving grand theft auto is serious and can result in substantial fines and prison time. Having an experienced criminal defense attorney who is knowledgeable and up-to-date on California’s auto theft laws can make a huge difference in the outcome of your case.
Below are some of the common defenses that can be raised against grand theft auto charges depending on the circumstances of the alleged conduct involved:
As mentioned above, the intent is the most critical element in a grand theft auto case. To secure a conviction for grand theft auto, the prosecution must be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you intended to steal the car either permanently or for a substantial period of time that would deprive the true owner of the car’s use or value. A lack of intent defense suggests that the defendant did not intend to steal the car.
For example, if you mistakenly drove the car a short distance, believing it was your car, and then later realized it was the wrong car and returned it, you would likely not be found guilty of grand theft auto because you never actually intended to steal the car in the first place.
In grand theft auto cases, the prosecution must also be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant took the car belonging to another person and did not have the owner’s permission to drive or take the car. If you can show that you are the true owner of the car or that you, in good faith, believed that you were the true owner at the time of the instant offense, then you are not guilty of grand theft auto.
For example, if you purchased a car at a used car lot and believed that the purchase was valid and you were now the legal owner, but it later turned out the car actually still belonged to somebody else, you would likely not be found guilty of grand theft auto.
Similar to the defense above, if the true owner of the car consented to you taking it or driving it and you at all times acted within the scope of that consent, or that you in good faith believed they consented to you taking it or driving it, you are not guilty of grand theft auto.
For example, if your friend gives you permission to borrow their car for the night and then later that night calls the police and accuses you of stealing it, you will likely not be found guilty of grand theft auto because you had the owner’s consent and acted within the scope of their consent.
Like with any crime, if the prosecution has insufficient evidence to prove that you committed all of the required elements of grand theft auto, the charges against you will likely be dismissed or result in a not guilty verdict after trial. It is the government’s burden to prove you committed the offense beyond a reasonable doubt.
In a grand theft auto case, the main element that the prosecution must prove is intent. The prosecution will not be able to secure a grand theft auto conviction absent proof of your intent to steal the car either permanently or for a substantial period of time that would deprive the true owner of its use or value.
At the Law Offices of David R. Silldorf, we will work tirelessly to put together a solid defense strategy and beat the charges against you. Our attorneys are passionate about defending your rights and will fight for you every step of the way to minimize or eliminate any potential negative consequences you face.
If you or a loved one have been charged with grand theft auto or any related offense, it is essential to call an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. At the Law Offices of David R. Silldorf, we will fight to protect you and your rights to achieve the best possible result in your case. No matter what the charges are, you have the right to effective legal representation before speaking to anyone, including the police, at every stage of the proceedings.
When you work with the Law Offices of David R. Silldorf, you get peace of mind knowing you are in experienced and trusted hands. Our reputation is to represent our clients fearlessly and aggressively, and we will do just that. We care about each of our clients and are determined to help. We are available 24/7 and will keep you updated on everything happening with your case. Call today for your free consultation so we can start fighting for your rights.
During your initial consultation, we will walk you through the charges and allegations, explain our representation process, answer any questions you may have, and let you know what the next steps of your case should be. After our consultation, we will get to work right away to examine your case and start building a solid defense.
At the Law Offices of David R. Silldorf, we work tirelessly to gather evidence, identify helpful witnesses, look for holes in the prosecution’s case, conduct our own investigation, establish a strong defense strategy, and do everything we can to get the best possible result for your case.
If you are looking for an aggressive criminal defense lawyer who will stop at nothing to help you get the best possible outcome for your case, you have come to the right place.
David Silldorf and his associates have more than 45 years of experience defending people accused of all types of crime.
When you choose David Silldorf Law, you can rest assured you are doing everything you can to best position yourself against the government. Do not hesitate to call today so we can begin putting together your legal defense and start fighting for you.
People v. an Individual
Client, a juvenile, was under investigation for a hit & run collision causing property damage per VC 22655(a). Sheriff agreed to DROP CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION and NO CHARGES FILED due to early intervention by the defense team and civil compromise.
People v. an Individual
Client was under investigation for felony hit & run involving a collision and property damage per VC 20001 to 5 parked vehicles and a truck. SDPD agreed to DROP CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION and NO CHARGES FILED due to early intervention by defense team, defense work up, and civil compromise.
We’ll fight for you so you get the results you deserve.