California “Grand Theft Auto” Law – Penal Code 487(d)(1) PC

April 22, 2015

In California, grand theft auto is governed under Penal Code  487(d)(1) pc. Grand theft auto is a “wobbler” offense which means you can be charged with a felony or misdemeanor. The prosecuting attorney holds discretion on whether to charge someone with either and factors the prosecutor considers is your prior criminal record and/or severity of the circumstances. Because grand theft auto is a “theft” crime, it carries adverse immigration consequences as a moral turpitude conviction. However, just because you’ve been arrested or charged with grand theft auto does not mean you’re guilty. The Law Offices of John D. Rogers is committed to zealously and passionately representing clients accused of numerous theft crimes and acknowledges the impact a theft conviction can have.

Element of the Crime

According to CALCRIM 1820, in order for someone to be guilty of grand theft auto, the prosecutor must prove each element beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. Defendant took or drove someone’s vehicle without their consent
  2. Defendant intended to deprive the owner of possession or ownership for any period of time

What are the Legal Defenses to Grand Theft Auto?

  • Consent: If you had valid consent from the owner of the vehicle then you are not guilty of grand theft auto.
  • No movement: The taking of a motor vehicle requires movement however slight. Thus, if the vehicle was idling or parked, then there is no taking and therefore you are not guilty of grand theft auto.
  • False Accusations: Unfortunately, falsely accusing someone of a crime is a growing concerning and the motivation for falsely accusing someone is limitless.
  • Shared Vehicle: If you shared the vehicle with another person, the same person accusing you of theft, then you may have a defense in that you were legally privileged to take the vehicle.

What is the Punishment for Grand Theft Auto in Newport Beach?

The felony consequences and punishment if convicted of grand theft auto is as follows:

  • 16 Months, 2, or 3 years in California state prison
  • Formal Supervised Probation or Parole
  • Up to $5,000 in fines and fees
  • Adverse Immigration Consequences
  • Restitution

If convicted of grand theft auto as a misdemeanor, the consequences are:

  • Up to 1 year in the County Jail
  • Court Fines and Restitution
  • Court Supervised Probation

What is an Example of Grand Theft Auto?

Dan was driving his girlfriend car to pick up groceries at a local Los Angeles store. He was pulled over for speeding by a police officer who subsequently ran a registration check on the vehicle. The inquiry revealed Dan’s girlfriend as the registered owner. The police officer immediately called Dan’s girlfriend to confirm Dan was legally permitted to use her vehicle. Because Dan had cheated on her previously, his girlfriend decided to make Dan pay for what he did so she told the officer that Dan stole her car. In this case, Dan would not be guilty of grand theft auto because he was initially permitted to use his girlfriend car to pick up groceries. Furthermore, Dan’s arrest was the product of his girlfriend’s revengeful plan.

Related Offenses

Contact Us to Schedule a Free Consultation

If you or a loved one has been arrested or charged with grand theft auto, contact an experienced Newport Beach criminal defense attorney at the Law Offices of John D. Rogers. Call us today to schedule a free confidential case evaluation concerning your rights and defenses.

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