What Is Grand Theft Auto?
Grand Theft Auto is the legal term for stealing a car. The “grand” in the term refers to the fact that most vehicles are worth a substantial amount of money and the penalties for this crime are much greater than those for minor theft.
Not all jurisdictions use the term “Grand Theft Auto” to prosecute vehicle theft. Many courts rank the severity of theft crimes based on the value of the stolen property. This means that the penalties for stealing a car valued at $10,000 may be similar to the penalties for theft of another item valued at the same amount.
However, vehicle theft can bring additional charges specifically related to vehicular crimes. For example, a person who steals a car may also be charged with Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle.
Penalties for Stealing a Car
As stated above, the penalties for theft crimes are usually based on the value of the stolen property. Theft of more expensive items can lead to harsher punishments, including longer jail sentences. Some examples of penalties for grand theft auto can include:
- a term of 180 days to two years in state jail for theft of a vehicle valued at $1500 or more but less than $20,000
- a term of two years to 10 years in prison for theft of a vehicle worth $20,000 or more but less than $100,000
- a term of two years to 20 years in prison for theft of a vehicle worth $100,000 or more but less than $200,000
- a term of five years to 99 years in prison for theft of a vehicle worth more than $200,000
Stolen Car Aggravating Factors
Not all vehicle thefts happen in unoccupied vehicles in the dead of night. If the vehicle theft involved the use of force or targeted a disadvantaged person, the penalties can be significantly enhanced. Some common aggravating factors include:
- the use of a weapon or violent force in the theft
- the stolen vehicle belongs to an elderly or disabled person
- the alleged car thief has a criminal history of previous vehicle thefts
Building a solid legal defense for a charge of grand theft auto is a complex undertaking. An experienced defense attorney can fight the charges and may be able to negotiate for less severe penalties. If you would like to know more information on how a criminal defense attorney can help your case, then call Brett A. Podolsky today at 713.227.0087.
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