Auto Theft Texas

Accusations of auto theft, auto burglary and carjacking in Texas can lead to life-altering repercussions including hefty fines, incarceration, and the likelihood of a criminal record. Theft from a vehicle is a considerable crime, and it takes an experienced criminal defense lawyer to help you fight such charges. Peveto Law has a proven history of achieving excellent outcomes for clients by raising strategic defenses tailored to the unique circumstances involved.

If you are facing auto theft charges in Collin, Denton or Dallas County, don’t delay. Reach out to Plano auto theft attorney Andrew Peveto for a free and confidential case review. When your freedom and your future are on the line, it pays to align yourself with a zealous advocate who is committed to protecting your rights.

Auto theft Texas statutes

In the state of Texas, it is illegal to take any property that doesn’t rightfully belong to you without the owner’s explicit consent, and a vehicle is no exception. Texas legislature does not have specific statutes regarding auto theft or auto burglary. This type of general property crime is covered under Texas Penal Code Sec. 31.03(a), which states that an individual commits theft when he or she “unlawfully appropriates property with the intent to deprive the owner of property.”

Theft offenses in Texas are classified and prosecuted according to the value of the property stolen. In other words, the more valuable the automobile stolen, the more severe the punishment. If there are aggravating factors or a prior history of criminal convictions, this will factor in to the final sentence.

Under the provisions of Texas Penal Code § 31.03, an individual can be charged with auto theft if:

  • They knowingly took a vehicle they did not own
  • They took a vehicle knowing it was stolen
  • They operate a vehicle without the owner’s permission
  • They fail to return a rental vehicle

Unauthorized use of a vehicle

Joyriding is often charged as Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle in Texas. Penal Code § 31.07 mandates that a person who knowingly or intentionally operates another’s vehicle that is propelled by a motor, boat or airplane without their permission can be charged with this State Jail Felony. Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle is punishable by up to two years in state jail and/or a fine of no more than $10,000.

Charges and Penalties for auto theft in Texas

The punishment for auto theft in Texas depends on the value of the property taken:

  • Class B misdemeanor: Auto is valued at less than $500
  • Class A” misdemeanor: Auto is worth between $500 and $1,500
  • State Jail Felony: Auto is valued at $1,500 – $20,000
  • 3rd Degree Felony: Vehicle is valued at between $20,000 and $100,000
  • 2nd Degree Felony: Vehicle is worth between $100,000 and $200,000
  • 1st Degree Felony: Vehicle is valued at $200,000 or more

If the alleged stolen vehicle is an old junker worth less than $1,500, a conviction could land you in jail for one year and hit you with fines of up to $4,000. If, however, the vehicle in question was a high-end collector’s item or a luxury sports car worth more than $200,000, a 1st Degree Felony conviction is punishable by a 5-99 year jail-term and/or fines not to exceed $10,000.

Obtaining legal representation of the highest caliber is crucial when you’re accused of any type of misdemeanor or felony crime in Texas, be it auto theft or joyriding. Attorney Andrew Peveto has more than a decade’s experience litigating property crime cases in Texas and can help you prepare a strong defense against allegations.

Theft from motor vehicle defenses

A talented criminal defense attorney will recognize the best defenses to the auto theft charges leveled. Your legal counsel may argue that there was no real intent to steal the vehicle in question. If the alleged offender had no intention to deprive the owner of the vehicle’s use or benefit, this defense may prevail.

In the same vein, if it can be shown that the alleged offender had consent to operate the vehicle, then no crime was committed.

While any type of criminal charge is an overwhelming prospect, it’s important to remember that people can be acquitted for crimes they did not intentionally commit.  In other cases, auto theft charges may be dismissed in situations where the vehicle was wrongly labeled as stolen.

Criminal defense for auto theft charges

If you have been charged with auto theft or unauthorized use of a vehicle, call Plano criminal defense lawyer Andrew Peveto to discuss the details of your case. Renowned for his aggressive advocacy, personalized service, and client-driven results, theft defense lawyer Andrew Peveto represents clients throughout North Texas, including the greater Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Additional Resources:

  1. Texas DMV, Dallas County North Texas Auto Theft Task Force https://www.txdmv.gov/abtpa-grantees/dallas-county
  2. Texas Penal Code, OFFENSES AGAINST PROPERTY https://statutes.capitol.texas.gov/Docs/PE/htm/PE.31.htm
  3. Texas Penal Code. PENAL CODE, TITLE 3. PUNISHMENTS https://statutes.capitol.texas.gov/Docs/PE/htm/PE.12.htm