Understanding laws regarding theft in California can be confusing. There are several different levels, and the penalties are wide-ranging depending on the value of what was purported to be taken, as well as whether firearms were involved, or harm was done to any individual. If you have been charged with theft of a vehicle, it is important to know what the differences are between joyriding and grand theft auto—and how such charges could affect your future.
While the term grand theft auto in many cases sounds extremely dramatic (and especially due to the popular video game named after this crime) what it boils down to is this if you were charged: You may have taken and driven a vehicle not belonging to you, without permission, with the intention to deprive the owner of their vehicle permanently. This could also include other vehicles like motorcycles, boats, or even a golf cart. And if you have been charged with such a theft—which could be a misdemeanor or felony—penalties may involve jail or prison, fines, and restitution to the victim. There is also a more complex charge known as carjacking, often involving taking a car from someone nearby, and doing so by force. Weapons often play a part in these charges also. Carjacking is a felony that comes with prison time in most cases.
Joyriding is generally considered a lesser car theft offense, and indeed, the term itself invokes a vision of a carefree activity, with the defendant speeding down the road, hair flying in the wind, taking off without a care in the world—in someone else’s car. Unfortunately, joyriding does have consequences though, even as a more typical activity enjoyed by teenagers taking off in their parents’ car without permission, or perhaps the parking attendant who got carried away and took off on a jaunt. Joyriding is generally considered a crime with little purpose other than to enjoy the act of doing so, and perhaps even flaunting it. While penalties may include jail, fines are to be expected, along with any necessary restitution due to the owner for possible property damages.
If you have been arrested on a car-theft charge, please call the Dolan Law Offices now. We will listen carefully to your concerns, review your case, and offer advice based on many years of experience. John Patrick Dolan understands California’s complex criminal defense laws and our office will provide the experience you need to help you fight for your rights and best interests. Call us at (760) 775-3739 or contact us online as soon as possible.