The theft of any motor vehicle can be punished very severely under California Penal Code Section 487(d)(1): Grand Theft Auto. Individuals convicted under PC 487(d)(1) may end up facing time in jail or prison, along with incredibly high fines.
Grand theft auto charges can seem intimidating to many people. You can take some of the stress out of a grand theft auto accusation by learning more about PC 487(d)(1). Find out more about how the court handles grand theft auto charges from the Simmrin Law Group.
California’s Legal Definition of Grand Theft Auto
Individuals in Los Angeles can be charged with grand theft auto if they steal a motor vehicle with the intent to keep it. Examples of motor vehicles in California can include cars, trucks, motorcycles, vans, and mopeds.
PC 487(d)(1) applies if someone steals a motor vehicle by committing:
Theft by Larceny
Theft by larceny occurs if someone simply takes a motor vehicle without first securing the permission of the owner. For example, an individual who breaks the window of a car parked alongside the road, hotwires it, and drives off would be committing theft by larceny.
Theft by False Pretense
Individuals who ‘buy’ a car from someone without ever intending to pay for it may be guilty of theft by false pretense. They may lead someone to believe they will be legally buying a car, but actually steal it.
Theft by Trick
Sometimes, individuals rent a car and then do not return it. This can be considered theft by trick. The court might also consider keeping a loaned car without the owner’s permission to be theft by trick.
Note that grand theft auto is very similar to a few other criminal charges in California, including:
- California Penal Code Section 215: Carjacking
- California Vehicle Code Section 10851: Joyriding
These charges come with different penalties in the Los Angeles court system.
Examples of Grand Theft Auto in Los Angeles
There are many possible examples of grand theft auto, including:
Person A spots an expensive car parked alongside the road. It is a cold morning and the car is running, though it is empty. Person A jumps in the car and drives off, intending to keep the vehicle. Person A could be charged with grand theft auto.
Person B offers to buy a car from a friend, but does not plan to make any payments. Once Person B has the car, they drive away and ignore all of their friend’s phone calls about making payments. Person B could face grand theft auto charges.
Possible Penalties for a Grand Theft Auto Conviction
Individuals may face misdemeanor or felony charges if they are accused of grand theft auto in Los Angeles. A conviction for grand theft auto can lead to periods of incarceration, including:
- Misdemeanor Grand Theft Auto: Up to 1 Year in Jail
- Felony Grand Theft Auto: Up to 3 Years in Prison
Individuals may be sentenced to extra time for stealing a vehicle:
- Worth More than $65,000
- Worth More than $200,000
A conviction under PC 487(d)(1) can also lead to fines of up to $10,000.
Defenses That Can Beat Grand Theft Auto Charges in California
A grand theft auto charge does not automatically have to lead to a conviction. In many cases, a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer can help individuals charged under PC 487(d)(1). The defenses against a grand theft auto charge can include:
Proving You Had Permission to Take a Vehicle
Sometimes, individuals may be falsely accused of stealing a vehicle they had permission to take. If you own a vehicle, you are allowed to take it.
Note that, generally, you must get consent from a vehicle’s owner every time you borrow it.
Proving You Did Not Intend to Keep the Vehicle
Grand theft auto charges only apply if an individual takes a vehicle and plans to keep it. Individuals who intend to bring a vehicle back may be charged with joyriding (unlawful taking of a vehicle) instead. Joyriding is generally punished less severely than grand theft auto.
Prosecutors sometimes offer joyriding charges as part of a plea bargain. A criminal defense lawyer can go over your case to see if a plea bargain is right for you.
Get Help Handling a Grand Theft Auto Charge Now
California Penal Code Section 487(d)(1): Grand Theft Auto can be used to prosecute individuals who steal motor vehicles in Los Angeles. A conviction for grand theft auto can result in fines and a lengthy period of incarceration. Get help fighting these charges by calling (310) 997-4688 or filling out our online contact form to speak with the professionals at the Simmrin Law Group today.
You can reach us for a FREE case evaluation if you are facing grand theft auto charges.