Defending Clients Facing Auto Theft Charges in Austin, Texas
Texas law does not set out one specific criminal offense for auto theft. Instead, when someone is suspected of taking a vehicle without the proper authority, the prosecutor has a variety of charges that might apply depending on the circumstances. No matter what charges are issued, however, auto theft is a serious offense, and a conviction can mean harsh penalties.
If you are accused of auto theft in any situation, you should not wait to call the Austin auto theft defense lawyers at Granger and Mueller PC. We can defend against your charges and seek to have your case dismissed or your penalties reduced. Contact our office right away.
Texas Auto Theft Charges
The following is a brief overview of the various charges you might face if you are suspected of auto theft in the Austin area.
In many cases, auto theft is prosecuted under the state’s general theft statute. There are different scenarios that might lead to general theft charges, including:
- Taking a vehicle when the owner is not around, such as hotwiring a car
- Failing to return a rental car
- Receiving a stolen vehicle, including receiving a car without proper title that you should know was stolen
The severity of the charges issued will depend on the value of the vehicle in question. If the vehicle is worth $500 to $1,500, you can face Class A misdemeanor charges. If the vehicle is worth $1,500 to $20,000, you can face state jail felony charges.
Carjacking refers to taking a vehicle by force from someone who is in the vehicle. This is prosecuted under the Texas robbery statute, which is a significantly more serious charge. Robbery is a second-degree felony, which can mean two to twenty years in state prison. If you are accused of having a deadly weapon during the commission of the carjacking, the charge can be escalated to aggravated or armed robbery, which is a first-degree felony and can mean five to 99 years in prison.
Another offense associated with auto theft is commonly called “joyriding.” This refers to taking a vehicle, driving it around, and later returning it. This can even refer to a teenager who takes a parent’s car without permission and then comes back home with it. This offense is charged as the “unauthorized use of a vehicle,” which is generally a state jail felony.
Any accusation of vehicle theft - even if you bring the car back - can be serious. It is important that you aggressively defend against your charges to prevent a conviction whenever possible.
Speak with Our Austin Automobile Theft Lawyers about Your Defense
If you face criminal charges of auto theft, contact the legal team at Granger and Mueller PC. We can evaluate your best defense strategy and protect your rights. Please call 512-474-9999 or contact us online as soon as possible to discuss how we can assist in your case.