Grand Theft Auto in California

Charged with grand theft auto in California? The Law Offices of Christopher Chaney can provide strategic defense. Consult with us for legal support today.

Navigating the Legal Terrain: Grand Theft Auto Charges in California

The theft of a motor vehicle, also known as grand theft auto (GTA), can result in severe penalties. Convictions may lead to imprisonment, substantial fines, and a permanent mark on your criminal record. The charges for grand theft auto can be daunting, as they can be classified as either a misdemeanor or felony, depending on a few factors such as the vehicle’s value and prior vehicle theft convictions. It is crucial to fully grasp the legal implications of such charges. 

This article aims to provide a thorough understanding of grand theft auto charges, delving into potential consequences and the factors that impact their severity. If you or a loved one is facing grand theft auto charges in California, contact the Law Offices of Christopher Chaney. Our experienced criminal defense attorneys can help you navigate the criminal justice system and protect your rights. We can seek the best possible outcome in your case, and get you the justice you deserve. Call us today for a consultation.

Legal Definition of Grand Theft Auto in California

When a vehicle is stolen in a theft crime, it automatically qualifies as grand theft. This means that charges of grand theft auto would apply.

To establish the commission of grand theft auto, a prosecutor must demonstrate the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • Taking possession of a motor vehicle belonging to another individual.

  • The vehicle’s value exceeds nine hundred fifty dollars (in most cases).

  • Absence of owner’s permission to access or use the vehicle.

  • Intent to either:

    • Permanently deprive the owner of the stolen car or

    • Temporarily possess the vehicle for a duration significant enough to cause substantial loss of value or enjoyment for the owner.

  • Moving the stolen property, irrespective of distance, and retaining possession for any period, no matter how brief.

These criteria typically serve as the basis for establishing the offense of grand theft auto. While robbery is the most common method of committing auto theft, as mentioned earlier, there are other ways of committing auto theft. One such method is through pretense. 

For instance, if an individual deceives the owner by falsely posing as a valet and persuades them to hand over their car, this would still be considered grand theft auto. Other methods include:

  • Acquiring a vehicle without making a payment.

  • Retaining a rented or loaned car.

  • Obtaining an automobile through embezzlement by taking advantage of a position of trust.

Penalties and Legal Consequences

California law classifies grand theft auto as a “wobbler” offense, meaning it can be classified as either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on many factors, including the case’s circumstances and a defendant’s criminal history. However, in most cases, GTA under is typically charged as a felony violation. Hence, it carries a potential jail sentence of:

  • Sixteen months, two years, or three years.

On the other hand, the unauthorized taking of a vehicle is typically considered misdemeanor grand theft auto for first-time offenses. Potential penalties (grand theft auto) may include:

  • A violation of this law may result in a penalty of up to $5,000 or 

  • A maximum jail term of one year in the county jail.

Besides the immediate consequences, getting convicted for GTA can have serious repercussions. Committing this offense is no small matter, as it carries significant consequences that can leave a lasting mark on your criminal record. 

These repercussions can significantly impede your job prospects and strain personal relationships. With employers and organizations doing thorough background checks these days, it’s crucial to get legal advice and fight the charges with all you’ve got to avoid getting convicted.

Defending Against Grand Theft Auto Charges

When faced with charges of grand theft, the key is to cast doubt on the evidence presented by the prosecution regarding the elements of the crime. There are several common defense strategies to combat these charges:

  1. Dispute that you took or carried away the property.
  2. Assert that you owned or had a claim of right to the property.
  3. Argue that you believed or had reasonable grounds to believe that the owner had consented.
  4. Claim that you returned or intended to return the property before substantial deprivation of its use.
  5. Assert that you are a victim of mistaken identity leading to wrongful arrest.

Raising reasonable doubt about the occurrence of theft or the defendant’s criminal intent is crucial. Additionally, if there was police misconduct during the search for vehicle theft evidence or subsequent interrogation, it may be possible to suppress incriminating evidence.

Having a skilled legal team by your side is crucial. These experienced lawyers have the know-how to negotiate with the prosecutor, striving for less severe charges or even getting the case dropped entirely. At the Law Offices of Christopher Chaney, we have extensive experience handling GTA charges and protecting our clients’ rights. 

We closely examine each case to find weaknesses in the prosecution’s argument. Our team can assess your case to determine if a plea bargain is right for you. By skillfully negotiating and advocating on your behalf, we aim to get your case dismissed, the charges reduced, or negotiate a favorable plea agreement for you. 

Safeguarding Your Future: Navigating Grand Theft Auto Charges with Experienced Legal Aid

Understanding grand theft auto charges in California is not just important; it’s crucial for safeguarding your future. Mishandling these charges can have severe consequences, including hefty fines, substantial jail time, and a permanent mark on your criminal record. But do not worry because, at the Law Offices of Christopher Chaney, we’ve got you covered.

Our top priority is you, our client. We believe in transparency and keeping you informed every step of the way. Our dedicated team will ensure that you clearly understand the charges, potential implications, and viable defenses. No stone will be left unturned as we develop strategies tailored to your unique circumstances.

If you find yourself facing grand theft auto charges, petty theft, other theft crimes, or related offenses, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We know how serious these charges are and are here to provide the legal support you need to navigate these charges effectively. Don’t let a grand theft auto charge control your future. 

Contact our criminal defense attorneys in Sherman Oaks today, and let’s work together toward a favorable outcome. Your future is in your hands, and we’re here to help you protect it.

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