Under California law, grand theft auto is covered under Penal Code section 487(d)(1). It is also called motor vehicle theft and is defined as the act of stealing (or attempting to steal) any type of automobile. This includes cars, trucks, buses, motorcycles, trailers and even snowmobiles. There are over 1 million theft crimes of this nature every year in the United States, and countless throughout Los Angeles. A defendant may be charged with grand theft auto if they took a car with the specific intent to permanently deprive the owner of possession of the car.
These motor vehicles are sometimes stolen for people looking to use the cars themselves, but they are also stolen to be sold off as parts, to be sold overseas, to be simply destroyed and more. If a defendant took a car to a chop shop to be disassembled for car parts, then this would be sufficient evidence of an intent to permanently take possession of the car from the owner and grand theft auto charges could be filed. Another dangerous form of grand theft auto is known as carjacking, which is the taking a vehicle by force from its owner or operator.
The key factor to prosecuting grand theft auto charges is intent to permanently take possession of the car from the owner. Therefore, in order to obtain a conviction, the prosecutor must prove this element of the crime. If the owner gave consent to take the car, then this would negate that element. If your criminal defense lawyer can provide evidence that the defendant did not intend to keep possession of the car permanently, that they had no specific deprive the owner of possession, but rather only intended to keep the car on a temporary basis, then this could also eliminate the element needed for a conviction.
At Premier Federal Criminal Defenders, we have defended numerous people charged with Grand Theft Auto. Our knowledge of and experience with prosecutors, police, judges and juries is quite extensive, which helps our clients get the best defense possible for their crimes. Our law firm can make a big difference in the outcome of your case.