Orange County Auto Theft Lawyer
Vehicle Theft Defense (Penal Code 487(d)(1)) in Southern California
If you were accused of stealing a car in Orange County, it is vital you hire an experienced OC criminal defense lawyer to assist you throughout your case. The attorneys at Law Office of Michael L. Guisti can help you overcome the charges you are facing by providing unparalleled criminal defense tactics. It is our goal to ensure you receive the best possible outcome and stay out of jail.
If you did steal a car, what your intentions were with said car can make a huge difference if you're being charged with either a felony or misdemeanor crime. Even if you're charged with a felony, our Orange County grand theft auto attorney can work to have your charges reduced.
Types of Auto Theft and Their Charges
If you stole a car and intended to keep it for yourself and deprive the owner of his/her vehicle, you can be charged with Penal Code 487(d)(1), Grand Theft Auto. However, if you intended to only steal a car and drive it for a few hours, or maybe pull a joke on your friend by "hiding" their car that he/she didn't find all that funny and called police, you could be charged with violating California Vehicle Code (VC) 10851, The Unlawful Taking or Driving of a Vehicle, which is commonly known as joyriding.
Simply put, if you steal a car, drive it around for a few hours, and return it, you can be charged with VC 10851, or joyriding, but if you keep the car for yourself, you could face the much more serious charge of grand theft auto. Our attorney wants to stress that even if you intended to permanently steal a car that may only be worth a couple hundred dollars, you'll still be charged with grand theft, as the $950 threshold that determines if a theft crime is to be charged as a petty theft or grand theft doesn't apply when vehicles are involved.
Additional Auto Theft Charges in Orange County
Whether you permanently steal a car or joyride for a few hours, you could be facing various charges including auto burglary under PC 459 Burglary. Also, if you used force or threats to steal the car from another person, you could possibly be charged with PC 211 Robbery and PC 215 Carjacking; both of which count as "strikes" under California's Three Strikes Law.
This is why as soon as you're arrested, you need to contact an Orange County defense attorney right away so they can work with the District Attorney's office before charges are formally filed. This can help reduce charges and perhaps involve a plea agreement on your behalf.
The most common defense for auto theft is you had the owner's consent. If you had the car owner's consent, it may not be considered a crime. If you obtained the owner's consent by fraud, you still may not be found guilty of the crime. However, if the owner previously consented to you using his/her car, that will not serve as a defense. If there was a misunderstanding, it's possible the DA could file lesser charges.
What if I am Convicted?
Grand theft auto is generally charged as a felony, but is nonetheless a "wobbler," which means it can be charged either as a misdemeanor or felony. Your charges depend on the facts of the case, which may include if the vehicle was carjacked or taken by violent force, the value of the car, and your criminal history. Joyriding under VC 10581 is generally charged as a misdemeanor, but this, too, is also a "wobbler" that can be charged either as a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the facts of your case.
If you are convicted of misdemeanor auto theft, you face a maximum one year jail sentence. If convicted of felony auto theft, you face 16 months to four years in a California State Prison and up to $10,000 in fines—depending on whether you have any similar prior convictions. If the stolen car's value was over $65,000, you will likely be charged with felony grand theft auto and can be subject to an additional and consecutive prison sentence of one year. In the event the car was worth more than $200,000, you face an additional and consecutive two-year sentence.
"A friend told me it was okay to pick up his car and drop it off, but his wife didn’t know and called the cops. We explained to the cops what happened, but they weren’t buying the story and charged with auto theft. The experienced attorneys at Michael L. Guisti’s office totally cleared everything up for me. Sometimes people find themselves in trouble that really isn’t their fault, and that is why you need to have the lawyers from Michael L. Guisti take care of everything for you."
Call Us Now!
Do not risk having a permanent mark on your record. Call the Orange County auto theft lawyers at Law Office of Michael L. Guisti at (714) 530-9690 right away. Our defense lawyers have over a decade of experience successfully fighting auto theft charges throughout Southern California.
Not only will our legal team go over and explain the complexities of this charge, but by calling right away before the District Attorney formally files charges, we cannot only work with the DA to reduce charges, but we can also strive to work out a plea deal that keeps you out of jail.
Whether you're facing a felony or a misdemeanor, don't risk a conviction. Act quickly to redeem your reputation and protect your record by consulting with our Orange County criminal defense lawyer. Call today to schedule your free consultation.