Grand Theft Auto in Texas

San Antonio Theft Lawyer Relentlessly Fighting for Your Rights

Make sure you get the legal protection you need after you are charged with grand theft auto. Contact a theft defense attorney in San Antonio as soon as possible! At my firm, the Law Office of Kerrisa Chelkowski, I am devoted to providing tough defense and effective counsel for individuals who have been charged with theft crimes.

Texas does not have a separate class of crimes for theft of automobiles. Rather, car thefts fall under the state's category of general theft laws, and are distinguished between petty thefts and grand thefts. Petty thefts are typically misdemeanors that are punishable by up to one year in jail, while grand thefts are typically felonies that are punishable by one year or more in prison. In Texas, thefts are classified depending upon the value and nature of the property that is taken. The more valuable the property that is taken is, the more serious the punishment that follows will be.

How is one convicted of grand theft auto, and what are the penalties?

In order for an individual to be convicted of grand theft auto, the prosecution must be able to prove that:

  • The vehicle taken belongs to someone else
  • The defendant took or drove the vehicle without permission
  • The defendant had the intent to permanently deprive the owner of the vehicle

Punishment for grand theft auto can vary from a fine of up to $500 to life imprisonment. Most motor vehicle thefts are punishable by 180 days to 10 years in state jail, as well as by a fine up to $10,000. The penalties for grand theft auto can increase if the defendant used a weapon during the crime or had a prior felony conviction. If the defendant has at least two prior theft convictions, his or her auto theft offense will become a state jail felony.

Grand Theft Auto Defense: Intent & Consent

There are two primary defenses that are used when it comes to grand theft auto cases. The first is that the defendant did not intend to permanently deprive the owner of the car. The second is that the owner gave consent for his or her vehicle to be taken.

Intent: If the individual takes a vehicle but intends to return it to the owner, he or she has not committed theft. Rather, the individual has unlawfully taken or driven a car—also known as joyriding. Joyriding is typically charged as a misdemeanor and results in less serious penalties than theft.

Consent: If the owner of the vehicle gave consent to the person who took the car, there is no crime. However, just because the owner previously gave the defendant consent, this does not mean that the defendant had consent to drive the vehicle in this particular circumstance.

In other cases, the defendant may argue that he or she was charged due to mistaken identity. For example, there may have been blurry video evidence that led to the wrong person being arrested. Or, there may be evidence that the defendant was framed by the alleged victim or by someone else.

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When your future is at stake, do not wait to take action! Contact my firm today to schedule your free case evaluation and find out about your options.

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