Grand Theft Auto
Grand Theft Auto, commonly referred to as GTA, is a violation of Vehicle Code section 10851. This crime consists of the unlawful taking or driving of a vehicle without the owner’s consent, which deprives the owner, either permanently or temporarily of the enjoyment and use of his or her vehicle. Therefore, a person can be charged with GTA even if he or she was not the actual person who initially stole the vehicle, but rather, was only driving the vehicle at some subsequent point, knowing the vehicle was stolen.
VC 10851 is a “wobbler” offense, meaning it can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor. If it is charged as a misdemeanor, it carries with it up to one year in local county jail. A felony, on the other hand, carries with it up to three years in state prison. In determining whether to charge the case as a felony or misdemeanor, prosecutors will generally look at the existence of any prior criminal record, and the nature of the relationship between the victim and suspect. This crime can be charged in the case of a child taking his parents’ vehicle without their permission. In this instance, if the child has no prior record and the vehicle is returned, the most likely charge would be a misdemeanor violation of VC 10851. If the crime is charged as a felony, however, an experienced Grant Theft Auto attorney, can file a motion to reduce the charge to a misdemeanor pursuant to Penal Code section 17(b).
A related charge to that of Vehicle Code section 10851 is Penal Code section 496d(a), possession of a stolen vehicle. This crime is very often filed in conjunction with VC 10851. This can be charged in a situation where there was no proof of actual taking or driving, but the vehicle is located on someone’s property and there is evidence that the person knew the vehicle was, in fact, stolen. Similar to VC 10851, this crime is also a “wobbler” offense, meaning it can be charged as either a felony or misdemeanor, taking into consideration the same factors as outlined earlier. Moreover, a person may be charged with both VC 10851 and PC 496d(a), and convicted of both of those crimes. If the charges stem from one vehicle, however, he or she will not be sentenced separately for those crimes.
Another related charge to GTA is that of Penal Code section 666.5 (GTA with a prior). Unlike the two crimes mentioned above, this crime is not a wobbler, but rather, an irreducible felony that cannot be reduced pursuant to motion. An experienced criminal defense attorney can negotiate this charge, however, in order to have the conviction be for one of the wobbler offenses mentioned above, so that the crime can eventually be reduced to a misdemeanor and expunged from your record.
Any theft-related conviction is a crime of moral turpitude and will have a tremendous detrimental impact on your ability to find or maintain employment. Therefore, if you are facing the crime of Grand Theft Auto or possession of a stolen vehicle, contact The Law Offices of Parwana Anwar, PLC , Temecula Criminal Defense Attorney to ensure you have the best defense available to you. Our experienced attorneys will fight for your rights and provide you with a superior defense so you don’t suffer unnecessary, harsh consequences for the rest of your life.