The penalties for grand theft auto in Texas are harsh, but there are defenses available.
The Texas Penal Code does not have a separate classification for the theft of automobiles. Instead, the offense of auto theft falls under the general theft laws of the state. The criminal offense of theft is separated into petty theft and grand theft, depending on the value of the property that was allegedly stolen. Typically, petty theft is a misdemeanor, with a sentence of up to one year in jail. Grand theft, which includes auto theft, is punishable by one year or more in state prison. If you have been charged with grand theft auto, it is critical that you get the legal protection you need.
Elements of Grand Theft Auto
Being charged with grand theft auto does not necessarily mean you will be convicted. To secure a conviction for grand theft auto, the prosecution must show the following elements:
- The vehicle in question was taken by someone who did not own it,
- The defendant drove or took the vehicle without consent from the owner, and
- The defendant intended to keep the vehicles permanently, depriving the owners of them.
If the prosecution successfully proves the above elements, those convicted will face very serious penalties.
Penalties for Grand Theft Auto
The sentences handed down for grand theft auto can vary from a fine of up to $500 to life in prison. In most cases, a conviction for grand auto theft is punishable by 180 days to 10 years in jail and a fine of $10,000. If the defendant had a prior felony conviction on their criminal record or they used a weapon during the commission of the crime, the penalties will increase. Defendants who have two or more prior theft convictions will have their charges upgraded to a state jail felony.
As with any other criminal offense, those convicted of grand theft auto will have a permanent criminal record. Even after a sentence is served, this can prevent a person from gaining employment, housing, and academic opportunities.
How to Defend Against Grand Theft Auto Charges
There are two primary defenses used in grand theft auto cases. The first is that the defendant did not intend to steal the vehicle or permanently keep it. Even when a person takes someone else’s car, if they intend to return the vehicle, the charges can be reduced to joyriding, which is usually a misdemeanor and results in far less severe penalties.
The second defense used in grand theft auto cases is that the owner gave the defendant permission to take the vehicle. When the owner of any property gives someone permission to take it, there is no crime.
Our Theft Lawyers in Texas Can Provide Your Legal Defense
If you have been charged with grand theft auto in Texas, you need strong legal representation. At Granger and Mueller, P.C., our Texas theft lawyers can prepare a solid defense to give you the best chance of retaining your freedom. Call us now at (512) 474-9999 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.}