California Joy Riding

Joy riding is the unlawful taking of a motor vehicle without the owner’s consent governed by California Penal Code section 487(d)(1). Joy riding is a lesser offense to grand theft auto. Joy riding differs because the defendant intends to return the car whereas grand theft auto, a defendant intends to deprive the rightful owner permanently.

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Elements to Joy Riding or Unlawful Taking of a Motor Vehicle

In order for someone to be found guilty of joy riding, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. Defendant drove a motor vehicle
  2. Defendant as not the owner
  3. Defendant did not have permission

What are the Legal Defenses to Joy Riding?

When someone is charged with joy riding, it’s often a misunderstanding between the defendant the person who owns the car or the defendant is falsely accused. Additionally, if a defendant was granted consent by the owner of the vehicle, then the defendant is not guilty of joy riding.

What is the Punishment for Joy Riding?

Joy riding is a “wobbler” offense which gives the prosecutor discretion to charge someone with joy riding as a misdemeanor or felony. A misdemeanor conviction carries a maximum sentence of one year in the county jail. A felony conviction carries a sentence of 16 months, 2, or 3 years in the state prison. If one is convicted of joy riding as a felony, they may be eligible to reduce the felony conviction to a misdemeanor upon successful completion of probation.

Free Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Consultation

If you or a loved one has been arrested, charged, or is under investigation for vehicle theft, contact Los Angeles Criminal Defense & Theft Attorney John Rogers at the Law Offices of John D. Rogers located at 1801 Century Park East, 24th Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90067. Call (949) 625-4487 now for a free confidential consultation concerning your rights and defenses.

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