Auto Theft Laws

When it comes to auto theft in the state of California, the laws for such a crime are quite severe.

If ever you or someone you know commits a crime like this, it’s important to be aware of the laws associated with the crime and the penalties for breaking these laws. In the event that someone you know is arrested for auto theft, a judge will post a certain amount for bail, which you have the option of paying in order for the defendant to be released from jail until their court date. By utilizing a bail bonds agency, you’ll only be required to pay 10 percent of the bail, which is contingent on the defendant attending their court date in the future. Once you pay the bond amount to the bail bonds agency, the defendant will be released. The following will detail all of the laws surrounding auto theft in California.

California Auto Theft Laws

In regards to auto theft laws in California, these can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony, largely depending on the severity of the crime. However, the severity of auto theft primarily depends itself on the criminal history of the offender and the basic circumstances surrounding the crime. In the vast majority of cases, theft of a vehicle with result in a felony conviction. The penalties for such a crime can be severe, especially in the event that the stolen vehicle was an expensive model. The theft of a vehicle in California is denoted by several factors whereupon the defendant

  • Took a vehicle owned by someone else
  • The vehicle is valued at over $950
  • They didn’t have permission to take the vehicle by the owner
  • The car was moved to a new location in order to deprive the rightful owner of enjoyment from the vehicle or the actual value of the vehicle

In the event that the stolen vehicle is a marked police car, ambulance, or fire department vehicle, the penalties will be more severe. There are times when the unlawful taking of a vehicle may be referred to as joyriding. This is a separate crime from auto theft because joyriding is determined as such if the vehicle was not meant to be stolen permanently.

Although the same charges can be levied in the event of being charged with joyriding, this crime usually carries with it a misdemeanor. Auto theft is also separate from carjacking, the latter of which is a much more severe crime. Carjacking occurs when a vehicle is taken from its owner through the usage of force or threat. Now that you’re aware of the California laws for auto theft, you’re ready to learn more about the penalties of committing this crime.

Penalties for Breaking These Laws

There’s no exact way to determine if the theft of a vehicle will result in the charge of a misdemeanor or felony. This is largely due to the fact that the defendant’s criminal history is taken into account as are the circumstances surrounding the theft. If charged with a misdemeanor, you face up to a year in jail. If charged with a felony, jail time extends to either 16 months, two years, or three years within a county jail. A fine of up to $5,000 may also be levied. In the event that the vehicle was taken through force or threat, the crime always carries with it a felony charge.

However, when charged with a felony for carjacking, the penalty is much stiffer and can include jail time of three years, five years, or even nine years. It’s also important to note that a second conviction for grand theft auto, unlawful taking, or theft falls under California’s Three Strikes Law. This means that a subsequent felony after having been convicted of a serious felony will carry a charge of double the standard jail time. In the most severe case, this could cause you to spend up to 18 years in jail for the theft of a vehicle. As such, it’s essential that you stay away from committing crimes of this nature, or crimes in general, as the penalties can be life-altering.