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.
What do grand theft auto charges in Texas mean?
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 grand theft auto. Convictions for carjacking can result in three to nine years in state prison and up to $10,000 in fines.
Texas law imposes severe 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.
- 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.
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.
Auto theft Texas 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
Impact of prior Texas grand theft auto charges
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.