Grand Theft Auto Charge

Grand Theft Auto Charges in Texas

Grand Theft Auto, which is also known as larceny of a vehicle, felony theft, first-degree theft, auto theft, car theft, or motor vehicle theft, typically involves stealing or attempting to steal an automobile and is considered to be one of the most serious forms of theft. Penalties for committing grand theft auto vary by state and jurisdiction, with punishments often including lengthy jail sentences as well as hefty fines.

This act is an offense that commonly results in felony charges and an associated jail sentence of more than a year. It involves taking someone else’s car without their permission, with the intention to permanently or significantly deprive them of ownership. As a form of auto theft, it has serious consequences if convicted, so understanding its definition and potential implications is essential.

Auto Theft Charges in Texas

The state of Texas divides auto theft into the following categories:

  • Car Jacking: taking a car from the driver by force or threat of force.
  • Joyriding: operating a motor vehicle without the owner’s consent with the intent to return it.
  • Failing to Return a Rental Car: abandonment or refusal to return property.
  • Grand Theft: the unauthorized taking of another person’s vehicle with the intent to permanently deprive the owner.

It makes no difference whether you took the vehicle by force, deception, or false pretenses, according to the definition of grand theft auto. The immediate presence of the vehicle’s rightful owner distinguishes carjacking from grand theft auto accusations. When an automobile is parked in a garage, lot, or on the street, it is considered a grand theft auto. Convictions for carjacking can result in three to nine years in state prison and up to $10,000 in fines.

grand theft auto charges in texas

Texas Penalties for Auto Theft

Auto theft is frequently referred to as a “wobbler” offense, which means that it can be classified as a felony or a misdemeanor depending on the circumstances. The majority of stolen autos are classified as state jail felony charges, which include goods worth between $1,500 and $20,000, or as a felony of third-degree theft, which includes property worth between $20,000 and $100,000. TX Penal Code Ch 12,

  • Penalties for state jail felony theft range from 180 days to two years in prison, plus a fine of up to $10,000.
  • The penalties for felony third-degree theft are two to ten years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000.

When high-end vehicles such as Lamborghinis, Aston Martins, Ferraris, Bentleys, and Bugattis are stolen, a felony of first-degree theft charges may be filed, with penalties ranging from five to 99 years in prison and fines of up to $100,000.

Auto Theft Value Classification Punishment
Less than $2,500 State Jail Felony 180 days – 2 years in state jail and a $10,000 fine
$2,500 – $30,000 Third-Degree Felony 2 – 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine
$30,000 – $150,000 Second-Degree Felony 2 – 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine
Over $150,000 First-Degree Felony 5 – 99 years in prison and a $10,000 fine

In addition to criminal consequences for grand theft auto in Texas, you may face civil fines under the Texas Theft Liability Act, which allows victims to recover up to $1,000 in cash as well as compensation for the vehicle’s retail value if it is not returned in sellable condition. If you commit this felony as a minor, your parents may be held liable for up to $5,000 in restitution for actual damages. Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 134.002-005; Tex. Penal Code §31.03-04.

Grand Theft Auto Charge in Texas

The chief defenses for grand theft auto charges involve consent (you had permission to use the vehicle) and intent (you did not mean to keep the vehicle). It can be difficult to demonstrate your credibility in the state of Texas, but a skilled team of theft defense lawyers is up to the task. Contact us right now to speak with someone who actually cares about the serious charges you face and has the means and knowledge to assist you.

Texas Auto Theft Statutes

It is prohibited in Texas to remove property that does not properly belong to you without the owner’s explicit consent, and taking a vehicle is no exception. The Texas legislature has no particular provisions concerning auto theft or auto burglary. This type of general property crime is addressed by Texas Penal Code Sec. 31.03(a), which states that theft occurs when an individual “unlawfully appropriates property with the intent to deprive the owner of the property.”

In Texas, theft charges are classed and prosecuted based on the value of the property stolen. In other words, the more valuable the stolen vehicle, the harsher the punishment. If there are aggravating factors or a history of previous offenses, the final sentence will reflect this.

Under the provisions of Texas Penal Code § 31.03, an individual can be charged with auto theft if:

  • They knowingly took a vehicle they did not own
  • They took a vehicle knowing it was stolen
  • They operate a vehicle without the owner’s permission
  • They fail to return a rental vehicle

Prior Theft Convictions

If you have a prior grand theft auto conviction – or any theft conviction – the gravity of your crime will be automatically increased to the next most serious level. Because of this, if you stole a jalopy valued at less than $1,500, you’d face a state jail felony rather than a Class B or Class A misdemeanor. Worse, Texas is one of the few states with a draconian “Three Strikes Law,” which requires life in prison for anyone convicted of three felony felonies, including theft. If you’ve been charged with a theft felony, you should obtain legal assistance from a diligent attorney who is compassionate and knowledgeable.

When it comes to carjacking or grand theft auto, you need the proper criminal defense lawyer on your side.


What is the minimum sentence for grand theft auto?

The minimum sentence for grand theft auto varies depending on the state in which it is committed, as well as the severity of the crime and the defendant’s prior criminal record. Generally, a conviction for grand theft auto carries a punishment of up to one year in prison or jail time, costly fines, restitution payments, probation, and/or community service.

What is grand theft auto charge in Texas?

In Texas, grand theft auto is a felony offense that can be punishable by a fine of up to $10,000, imprisonment in a state prison for up to 10 years, or both. Other potential punishments include victim restitution, court-ordered counseling, or revocation of driving privileges.

What is the difference between car theft and grand theft auto?

Car theft involves stealing an automobile without the intention of permanently depriving its owner of it. Grand theft auto occurs when the vehicle is taken with the intent of never returning it to its rightful owner. In some cases, grand theft auto may involve other charges such as trespassing or burglary.

What is a grand theft auto charge in Los Angeles?

In Los Angeles, grand theft auto is classified as a “wobbler” offense – meaning it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony. If convicted as a misdemeanor, defendants face up to one year in county jail and/or hefty fines. If charged as a felony, penalties increase to 16 months – 3 years in state prison and heavy fines.

How do you beat grand theft auto charge?

A favorable outcome for a grand theft auto charge hinges on having an experienced attorney who can thoroughly analyze your case and determine potential legal defenses or mitigating factors that may result in a more lenient outcome or even dismissal of your charges. Depending on the circumstances, these defenses could include mistaken identity, lack of adequate evidence proving your guilt, entrapment, or duress.

Is grand theft auto a misdemeanor or felony?

Grand theft auto is typically charged as a felony, but in some cases may be reduced to a misdemeanor with certain aggravating factors. It is important to note that even if a defendant is charged with a misdemeanor offense, they still face serious consequences including possible jail time and fines.

Do you go to jail for grand theft auto?

Yes, individuals convicted of grand theft auto can face jail time ranging from months to several years depending on the severity of the crime and the jurisdiction in which it was committed.

What is the bail for grand theft auto?

Bail amounts for grand theft auto vary depending on the jurisdiction and the severity of the crime. Generally speaking, bail for this offense can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars.

What makes grand theft auto a felony?

Grand theft auto is usually considered a felony because it involves knowingly taking possession of another person’s property with the intent to permanently deprive them of it. Felony offenses carry more serious penalties than misdemeanors and require greater degrees of effort and planning to commit.

How long do you go to jail for grand theft auto in Texas?

Depending on the severity of the crime and any prior criminal history, an individual convicted of grand theft auto in Texas may face anywhere from 180 days to 10 years in prison as well as prohibitive fines and court-ordered restitution payments.

How long do you get for a grand theft auto in Texas?

The length of a sentence for grand theft auto in Texas depends on the severity of the crime and whether or not the defendant has any prior criminal history. Those convicted of this offense can face up to 10 years in prison if charged with a felony and/or harsh fines along with possible probationary periods or community service requirements.

What is the difference between grand theft auto and joyriding?

While both crimes involve unlawfully taking another person’s vehicle, joyriding typically does not involve any permanent intent to possess or keep the property; rather, it involves operating it temporarily without permission. Grand theft auto is more serious than joyriding as it involves knowingly taking another person’s vehicle with no intention of returning it.

Additional resources on grand theft auto charges:

  1. Penal Code, Title 7. Offenses Against Property, Chapter 31. Theft
  2. National Conference of State Legislatures, Auto Theft & Carjacking State Statutes

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