Los Angeles Grand Theft Auto Defense Lawyers
Grand Theft Auto, or GTA, is a serious offense that occurs when a defendant is charged with stealing another person’s car. While it is considered a wobbler, it can also overlap with several other felony charges that lead to a lengthy prison sentence, including robbery, burglary, and chop-shopping. Beating these charges requires a skilled attorney, as the prosecution will pursue the harshest possible punishment.
If you or someone you love has been charged with grand theft auto, do not hesitate to contact Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP. Our Los Angeles grand theft auto defense lawyers have spent decades defending clients in complex criminal case. We understand how the prosecution thinks and know how to fight back on your behalf. Call us at (213) 688-0460 to get a free case evaluation and learn how we can protect your future.
Grand theft auto is defined under California Penal Code 487(d)(1), a subsection of California’s grand theft charges. While grand theft is typically only charged when the value of the stolen goods is $950 or more, a stolen automobile will automatically be grand theft. “Grand theft auto” is defined as the unlawful taking of another person’s vehicle without his or her permission and the intent to deprive the owner of the vehicle of its value. This can include taking the vehicle by fraud, trickery, or force.
This charge can overlap with several other theft crimes, potentially leading to a felony. If a defendant took a vehicle from its owner’s immediate possession through force or fear, it can be seen as a carjacking or robbery, depending on the nature of the crime. Alternatively, if the defendant took any other property from the vehicle, it may add an auto burglary charge, a burglary charge based on breaking into vehicles to commit a theft. Altogether, these charges can lead to up to a decade in prison or longer with additional enhancements.
Grand theft auto and carjacking are sometimes mentioned in the same breath, but these charges do have important differences in criminal court. While grand theft auto refers to illegally taking another person’s vehicle, carjacking requires that the vehicle’s owner – or a passenger – is immediately present and the vehicle is taken through duress, fear, or force. Carjacking is also slightly different than robbery, which requires the permanent taking of a vehicle -- carjacking can include temporarily taking it for a joyride.
Both of these charges can be filed by the prosecutor in the same case, extending the potentials punishments for the defendant. Carjacking is also considered a violent crime in California, meaning the defendant can face a strike under California’s Three Strike Law.
Chop-shopping is another charge that goes hand in hand with grand theft auto. Defined under California Vehicle Code 10801, a “chop shop” is an illegal business where a person either modifies, stores, or takes apart stolen vehicles with the intent to sell, dispose of, or hide the identity of the vehicle or auto part. For example, if someone took another person’s vehicle to change the vehicle’s registration and sell it, then he can be charged with running a chop shop, as well as DMV fraud.
Simply handing someone else’s vehicle over to a chop shop can result in a chop-shop charge. The courts do not care if you were in charge of the chop shop or a participant: they will pursue hefty penalties in either case.
On its own, grand theft auto is a wobbler, which means you can be charged with either a misdemeanor or a felony. If you have a criminal record or you committed another crime, such as joyriding, reckless driving, or evading the police before your arrest, then the prosecution will likely pursue a felony.
Misdemeanor grand theft auto is punished by:
- Up to one year in county jail;
- A maximum fine of $1,000; and/or
- Misdemeanor probation.
In contrast, felony grand theft auto is punished with:
- Up to 16 months, two years, or three years in state prison;
- A maximum fine of $10,000; and/or
- Felony probation.
If you were charged with any other theft or violent crime alongside grand theft auto, you will likely face felony charges and potential strikes on your record. In either case, it is important to have a skilled attorney at your side who can fight to have your charges reduced or dismissed.
Grand theft auto is complex, which is why your case requires the expertise of Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP. We know what’s on the line and how to fight on your behalf. Our legal team is well-versed in fighting felony theft charges and can use several defenses to protect your future, including:
- You had the consent of the owner to take the vehicle.
- You were given indirect permission to take the vehicle.
- You had no intention of keeping the vehicle and attempted to return it.
- You believed you had a legal right to the vehicle due to a mistake of fact.
- You were wrongly accused.
Our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers at Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP have spent decades fighting for clients in serious theft cases. Let us do the same for you. We do not just offer the skill and knowledge of one attorney, but an entire firm dedicated to keeping you out of prison and defending your future. Contact us online or call us at (213) 688-0460 to begin planning your defense in a free consultation.
Recent Case Results
- Complete Dismissal of Molestation Charges
Attorney Mark Werksman’s 29 year old client was falsely accused of molesting two neighborhood children and was subsequently charged with felony child molestation, with a significant prison sentence hanging over his head should he be convicted. Instead, at the preliminary hearing Werksman was able to convince the court to grant his client a complete dismissal of any charges.
- Decision Set Aside
Client, a college student in a faulty Title IX case, was awarded $130,000 in attorney fees.
- Probation with No Jail Time for Drug Money Laundering Charge
Wilmington man accused in New York federal court of laundering drug money through the sale of laptop computers. Mark was able to get the case transferred to federal court in Los Angeles, where he convinced the United States Attorney to reduce the charges. His client was sentenced to probation with no jail time on a misdemeanor conviction.