Grand theft auto (GTA) is a serious crime that involves stealing a vehicle with the intent of keeping it permanently. Stealing a car for the purpose of taking it around the block, or joyriding, would not be considered grand theft auto. If a person were to steal the vehicle and then go on to sell any part of it, then a charge of grand theft auto is likely.
The following elements must be present for a grand theft auto conviction:
Notably, most jurisdictions include other vehicles under the umbrella of grand theft auto, including: motorcycles, boats, recreational vehicles (RV’s), and campers.
Though grand theft auto and carjacking both involve the theft of a vehicle, they differ in that carjacking involves violence. Grand theft auto occurs without violence and usually when the owner is not present. Carjacking is forceful, and a defendant who commits this crime can be charged with robbery. The crime of carjacking can also take place if the vehicle was taken through fear and intimidation.
In many states, grand theft auto is considered a wobbler. This means that it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony, and it can depend on the circumstances of the case as well as if the defendant had any prior convictions. The penalties for a GTA conviction vary and may include any of the following:
Ultimately, the severity of the punishment depends on the facts of the case and on the judgment from the court. If other crimes were committed in the commission of grand theft auto, they can be added to the charge. For instance, if the defendant broke into the victim’s garage to steal the car, they may be charged with home burglary.
In order to disprove a charge of GTA, it is imperative for the defense to negate the two main elements that are considered for a GTA conviction.
If you are facing grand theft auto or joyriding charges, contact a criminal defense attorney immediately. These are serious crimes that can drastically affect your future, and a qualified lawyer can help explain your rights, build your case, and represent your best interests in court.
Last Modified: 04-15-2018 08:20 PM PDTLaw Library Disclaimer
We've helped more than 4 million clients find the right lawyer – for free. Present your case online in minutes. LegalMatch matches you to pre-screened lawyers in your city or county based on the specifics of your case. Within 24 hours experienced local lawyers review it and evaluate if you have a solid case. If so, attorneys respond with an offer to represent you that includes a full attorney profile with details on their fee structure, background, and ratings by other LegalMatch users so you can decide if they're the right lawyer for you.