Grand Theft Auto Charges in Orange County

Have you, or someone you love been accused of stealing someone else’s car, truck or SUV? If so, it’s important to take these accusations seriously because the consequences of a conviction are quite serious. In California, the crime of auto theft or grand theft auto (GTA) is covered under Penal Code 487(d)(1) PC. Before we get into GTA, let’s take a look at the most stolen vehicles in the United States.

According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, in 2015, the Honda Accord was the #1 car stolen in America (52,244 stolen), with the Honda Civic (49,430 stolen) being the second most stolen car. Here are the top 10 stolen cars in the U.S. in 2015 according to the NICB:

  1. Honda Accord
  2. Honda Civic
  3. Ford Pickup (full size)
  4. Chevrolet Pickup (full size)
  5. Toyota Camry
  6. Dodge Pickup (full size)
  7. Toyota Corolla
  8. Nissan Altima
  9. Dodge Caravan
  10. Chevrolet Impala

In California, GTA refers to taking an automobile with the intention of “permanently depriving” the owner of their vehicle. If it was simply a “joyride,” it would likely be charged under Vehicle Code 10851 VC, which is a lesser offense than grand theft auto. For example, if you stole a car and drove around town for a few hours with your friends and then abandoned it a block away from where you took it, you would likely be charged under Vehicle Code 10851 VC.

Examples of grand theft auto:

  • Stealing a car and taking it to a “chop shop.”
  • Stealing a car while escaping law enforcement’s custody.
  • Stealing a car to commit a bank robbery.
  • Stealing a car as a “getaway car” after committing another crime.
  • Stealing a car, driving to another state and abandoning it.

Under California law, both grand theft auto and joyriding are “wobblers,” which means they can be charged as misdemeanors or felonies depending on the facts of the case, such as: 1) the value of the vehicle taken, and 2) the defendant’s criminal record history.

In reality, GTA under Penal Code 487(d)(1) PC is usually prosecuted as a felony, especially because today’s cars are typically worth thousands of dollars. As a felony, GTA is punishable by a fine, and 16 months, 2 years, or 3 years in prison.

Accused of grand theft auto or joyriding in Orange County? Contact our office to schedule a free criminal defense consultation!

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