Grand Theft Auto in San Diego
Grand theft auto is the unauthorized taking of another’s automobile with the intent to permanently deprive the owner. In San Diego, this offense can be committed through larceny, force, trick, false pretenses, or embezzlement and serious crimes like sexual battery, statutory rape. Grand theft is the unlawful taking with the intent to steal property valued over $950. For purposes of grand theft auto, any automobile is automatically considered grand theft auto, regardless of the market value of the vehicle.
Understanding Penal Code Section 487(d)(1)
In consideration of the seriousness of grand theft auto, California has criminalized it under Penal Code section 487(d)(1). Under this law, “Grand theft is theft committed when the property taken is an automobile."
Basically, to convict someone of PC 487(d)(1), the prosecutor must prove each of the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
- The defendant took another person's automobile;
- The defendant did so without the owner’s consent;
- The defendant acted with the intent to permanently keep the automobile;
- Or to keep the automobile for a substantial amount of time that would deprive the automobile of its value or use;
- The defendant moved the automobile; the distance moved does not matter, only that it was moved.
Grand Theft Auto Can Be Filed As a Misdemeanor or a Felony
The unauthorized taking of another’s automobile with the intent to permanently deprive the owner is a wobbler. A wobbler is a charge that the prosecutor has discretion to file as either a misdemeanor or a felony. In vehicle theft cases, the issuing attorney at the District Attorney’s Office determines the severity of the charges based on the following factors:
- The value of the automobile.
- The manner in which the automobile was taken.
- The defendant’s criminal history.
Misdemeanor Penalties For Grand Theft Auto Charges:
- A maximum sentence of 1 year in county jail;
- A fine of up to $1,000;
- Informal probation.
Felony Penalties For Grand Theft Auto Charges:
- A maximum sentence of 3 years in California state prison;
- A maximum fine of up to $10,000;
- Formal probation.
Enhancements for Grand Theft Auto
An enhancement offense is an offense whose commission alone increases the penalties for the original crime. In California, if you are found guilty of grand theft auto, burglary, you could be facing a sentence enhancement of additional and consecutive sentence in state prison depending on the value of the stolen vehicle.
Automobile Worth More than $65,000:
A sentence may be enhanced an additional and consecutive year.
Automobile Worth More than $200,000:
A sentence may be enhanced an additional and consecutive two years.
Because of the severity of the penalties that are involved with grand theft auto charges, your criminal defense attorney will have to determine which legal defense strategy will work best in your particular situation.
- Consent; the owner gave you permission to take the automobile.
- Accident; you believed you were the rightful owner of the automobile.
- Lack of Criminal Intent; you did not intend to permanently deprive the owner of the automobile.
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