Grand Theft Auto
Grand theft auto is the offense of stealing a motor vehicle. Like many other specific theft offenses, how an instance of alleged auto theft is charged depends on the circumstances of the case.
Automobile theft falls into many subcategories, each of which have a specific degree of charge and associated penalties. If you are facing a charge of automobile theft or any other theft charge, be proactive and start building your defense strategy with an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.
Facing a Grand Theft Auto Charge
Unlike other types of theft, which are charged according to the value of the property stolen, motor vehicle theft is always charged as a felony. It does not matter if the vehicle is worth $1,000 or $100,000 – theft of a car is grand theft auto, a felony charge punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 or three times the value of the vehicle, whichever is higher.
The right defense strategy could result in your charge being dropped or lowered to a less severe charge. For example, a grand theft auto charge could be reduced to a joyriding charge by demonstrating that the defendant had the intention of returning the vehicle to its owner.
Other Types of Auto Theft
There is an important difference to note between automobile theft and joyriding: although both involve the unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, individuals who commit the offense of joyriding intend to return the vehicles when they are finished. In Michigan, joyriding can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on whether the alleged offender took the vehicle without permission or if he or she initially had permission to use the car, but drove it beyond the scope of this permission. A felony joyriding charge has a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a misdemeanor joyriding charge is punishable by up to two years in prison.
Another type of auto theft charge is carjacking. This is the stealing of a vehicle through force or threat of deadly force. A carjacking conviction can result in life imprisonment for the defendant.
Other auto theft charges include:
- Receiving and concealing a stolen motor vehicle or vehicle parts;
- Failing to return a rental car;
- Altering or otherwise falsifying documents related to a motor vehicle, such as registration or a title;
- Making a false statement in the application for a motor vehicle title;
- Owning or operating a chop shop; and
- Buying, selling, or obtaining with the intent to sell or dispose of a vehicle whose VIN has been altered.
Work with an Experienced Grand Rapids Criminal Defense Lawyer
A grand theft auto conviction can land you in prison for years, possibly up to a decade if your case is charged as a felony. If you are facing this or another type of theft charge, work with an experienced criminal defense lawyer to develop an effective legal defense strategy for your case. To get started with a member of our firm, contact Van Den Heuvel Law Office today to schedule your initial consultation with us.