Grand Theft Auto

The chief defenses for grand theft auto charges involve consent (you had permission to use the vehicle) and intent (you did not mean to keep the vehicle). In the State of Texas, it can be an uphill battle to establish your credibility, but the expert team of Plano theft defense lawyer Andrew Peveto is up to the task. Contact us today to speak with someone who genuinely cares about the serious charges you face and who has the resources and knowhow to help.

What do grand theft auto charges mean in Texas?

The State of Texas classifies the crime of auto theft into the following categories:

  • Car Jacking: taking a car from the driver by force or threat of force.
  • Joyriding: operating a motor vehicle without the owner’s consent with the intent to return it.
  • Failing to Return a Rental Car: abandonment or refusal to return property.
  • Grand Theft: unauthorized taking of another person’s vehicle with the intent to permanently deprive the owner.

By grand theft auto definition, it does not matter whether you took the vehicle by force, trickery, or false pretenses. The difference between carjacking and grand theft auto charges is the immediate presence of the vehicle’s lawful owner. Grand theft auto occurs when the car is parked in a garage, lot, or on the street. Carjacking convictions can result in three to nine years in state prison and fines of up to $10,000.

For auto theft, Texas law carries stiff penalties

Auto theft is often referred to as a “wobbler” offense, meaning that it may be a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on the circumstances. Most stolen automobiles fall under state jail felony offenses, which includes property valued between $1,500 and $20,000, or felony of the third degree theft, which includes property valued between $20,000 and $100,000.

  • Penalties for state jail felony theft is imprisonment for 180 days to two years, plus a fine up to $10,000.
  • Penalties for felony of the third degree theft is imprisonment for two to 10 years, plus a fine of up to $10,000.

When high-end cars such as Lamborghinis, Aston Martins, Ferraris, Bentleys, and Bugattis are stolen, charges may include felony of the first degree theft, which carries potential consequences of five to 99 years in prison and fines as high as $100,000.

On top of criminal penalties for grand theft auto in Texas, you may be subject to civil penalties under the Texas Theft Liability Act, where victims may recover up to $1,000 cash for the trouble, as well as compensation to cover the retail value of the vehicle if it is not returned in sellable condition. If you’re a minor committing this crime, your parents can also be on the hook for up to $5,000 in repayment of actual damages.

The impact of prior grand theft auto charges in Texas

If you have a prior grand theft auto conviction on your record – or any theft convictions, for that matter – the severity of your crime will automatically bump to the next most serious level. So, for instance, if you stole a jalopy worth less than $1,500, you’d face a state jail felony rather than a Class B or Class A misdemeanor due to your past record. Worse yet, Texas is one of the few states with a strict “Three Strikes Law,” which mandates life prison sentences for individuals convicted of three serious crimes – theft included. If you’ve been charged with a theft crime, it’s important to seek legal counsel from a tenacious attorney with empathy and expertise.

Whether you’re facing carjacking or grand theft auto, you need the right person in your corner

Peveto Law Firm is located in Plano, Texas, with service to all cities in Collin County and Dallas County, Texas. We excel at providing aggressive, knowledgeable representation for those accused of motor vehicle theft. What makes auto theft Texas attorney Andrew Peveto different from other defense attorneys is that he truly cares about each individual and can relate to your circumstances. For more than a decade, he has received five-star ratings on multiple review sites, made the national “Top 40 Lawyers Under 40” list, and was locally voted among the Top 3 Lawyers in Plano. Call us today to discuss your charges and start building a strong defense today.

Additional resources on grand theft auto charges in Texas:

  1. PENAL CODE, TITLE 7. OFFENSES AGAINST PROPERTY, CHAPTER 31. THEFT, https://statutes.capitol.texas.gov/SOTWDocs/PE/htm/PE.31.htm
  2. National Conference of State Legislatures, Auto Theft & Carjacking State Statutes, http://www.ncsl.org/print/cj/fslautotheftpptchart.pdf