Vehicle Theft Crimes
If you steal a vehicle in the state of California, you may be charged with one of the following vehicle theft offenses:
- Grand Theft Auto (PC § 487(d)(1))
- The Unlawful Taking of a Vehicle (VC § 10851) – “Joyriding”
- Carjacking (PC § 215)
Both Joyriding and Grand Theft Auto are fairly similar, the important difference between the two is whether or not you intended to keep the vehicle permanently, or for a substantial period of time. If your intention was to take the vehicle for a brief period of time, then you may likely be charged with joyriding. However, if it appears that it was your intention to keep the car permanently or for a long period of time, you may be charged with a grand theft auto offense.
Even though both offenses are wobblers, meaning that the offenses can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. In most instances, grand theft auto is charged as a felony while joyriding is charged as a misdemeanor.
On the other hand, Carjacking is committed when you use force or fear to take a vehicle, owned by another, from the immediate presence and against the will of either the person in possession of the vehicle or a passenger, with the intent to either permanently or temporarily deprive that person of possession. In other words, carjacking involves a taking of such vehicle in someone’s immediate presence while joyriding and grand theft auto does not.
In California, carjacking is a violent offense and is a strike under California’s three strikes law. Carjacking is charged as a felony with a potential state prison sentence of three, five, or nine years. An individual faces punishment for each victim present in the car at the time of the carjacking.
“I understand that as an attorney, I am the voice of those who are wrongfully accused and people who should not have their lives ruined by a criminal conviction.”Attorney Adam Jackson