In 1993, 21% of all auto thefts in the United States happened in California, costing millions of dollars for insurance companies and the theft victims. Orange County accounted for 10% of that amount. The numbers have gone down, but vehicle thefts are still a common problem in the state.
Several California laws involve car theft because several different actions are considered to involve the theft of a vehicle. Some of these have very blurred lines, and it is easy to be accused and even arrested for a crime that you did not commit.
If you have been arrested for auto theft, there are a few things that you need to know.
The first thing you should do after being arrested is called a criminal defense attorney at The Law Offices of Frances Prizzia. At your free consultation, we will review your case and discuss your options for moving forward. We'll craft a solid defense strategy once you choose us as your legal representation.
We'll discuss the circumstances surrounding the incident, review police reports, read statements from the owner of the vehicle, and talk to any witnesses in order to get a clear picture of what happened and find the best way to defend you.
Whether you are arrested for grand theft auto, petty theft, or other auto theft charges, we'll be there to see you through it and work tirelessly to ensure that you have the best possible outcome for your case. That may mean reduced charges or a lesser sentence, or getting your case thrown out altogether.
You have rights and deserve to have those rights protected. That's our promise to you. We are committed to providing outstanding representation from start to finish – and we have many clients who have written testimonials raving about our legal services.
Auto theft is a serious crime, and effective defense of these crimes takes experience, knowledge, and skill. Don't put your future in the hands of lawyers who haven't stood in a courtroom defending a client charged with auto theft. Experience makes a huge difference.
A person accused of auto theft in California can be charged several offenses. One is the Penal Code, and the other is the California Vehicle Code The difference between the two is the intent of the defendant for the length of time they planned to keep it:
For the prosecutor to prove that the defendant is culpable of grand theft auto, he must successfully establish four essential elements:
There are many ways that a person can commit grand theft auto. The most common is larceny which means stealing the vehicle outright. However, they can also use false pretenses to steal it, such as buying a car but never making a payment. They can also use deception, such as illegally keeping a loaned car or rental car. Embezzlement is another way they can commit GTA, including unlawfully getting a vehicle by taking advantage of a position of trust.
Accepting or having a stolen vehicle in your possession is also a crime.
If you are being investigated for an auto theft crime in Orange County or have been charged or arrested, the number one thing you should do is close your mouth. That's right, don't say a word. You can answer questions such as your name but don't make a sound about the crime.
Anything you say to the police officers can be used against you in court, and you better believe that the prosecutor will most definitely use it against you. So, just ask for your lawyer. Don't try to talk your way out of the arrest, and definitely don't try to flee the police or resist arrest. That will only bring more charges against you. Cooperate, and be respectful, but do not talk.
If you don't have a lawyer and the officer arrests you, then you will have the right to a court-appointed attorney. However, your best chance at a favorable outcome is to find a law office with a criminal defense legal team. You need secure strong, experienced, skilled representation because when you enter that courtroom, the prosecution will throw everything at you to get a conviction.
You need someone on YOUR side. You need The Law Offices of Frances Prizzia.
Different cases of auto theft crimes start at different points. Some begin with an investigation, others an arrest. If you know you are being investigated, it's a good idea to go ahead and contact your lawyer. Many investigations lead to arrests, and you don't want to lose any time if that happens.
After the arrest comes the arraignment, during this part, the prosecutor will show the judge the evidence against you, and the judge will decide if it's enough to charge you formally. If there isn't enough evidence against you, it's over, and you are free to go (for those charges). If you are formally charged, you can plead guilty or not guilty of the crime you have been accused of committing.
Between the arraignment and the trial, there are a number of things that go on. Both the defense and prosecution will conduct their own investigations and gather evidence. There will be discovery where both sides hand over their evidence to the other, and the prosecution may even offer a plea deal. Your defense attorney will negotiate with the prosecutor to get the best deal possible. They will also discuss your options so you can make a prudent judgment regarding whether you accept or reject them.
The trial will proceed if you, the defendant, disagree with the plea deal. The trial will include a jury, and this is where the evidence is presented. At the end of the trial, the jury will either find you guilty or not guilty. If you are not guilty, you are free to go. If you are found guilty, you will face the penalties for the crime. If there was an error in the trial, such as a procedural issue, you may be able to appeal. Your attorney can take care of that for you too.
Several different theft offenses are related to car theft. Orange County auto theft charges are serious, so familiarizing yourself with these laws is a good idea.
This California Vehicle Code refers to someone who briefly takes a car that does not belong to them without getting the owner's permission. It may be a cool car, and they just want to drive around for a while. Whatever the case, if they took the car intending to give it back within a short period, that is considered joyriding - and it is a crime.
A crime is a burglary if the defendant enters a locked vehicle and their intent is to commit petit or grand larceny or any felony. It can mean stealing the car, or it can mean stealing the property that is inside the car – either action is burglary. Auto burglary is a wobbler offense. It can be categorized as a misdemeanor or a felony.
Buying or accepting a stolen car onto your property is a criminal offense in Orange County. It doesn't matter if you are aware that the vehicle is stolen. You can still face charges of accepting stolen property.
Carjacking is a violent felony under California law. This law makes it illegal to take a vehicle away from someone else by using fear or force (including physical force). This includes the use of weapons. It carries a serious penalty that includes up to nine years in prison.
Unlawfully taking or stealing property that belongs to someone else when the property is valued at $950 or less is petty larceny. It is a misdemeanor, including jail time, probation, and fines. If the property is valued at more than $950, it is grand theft which is a more serious charge. Theft of firearms of any value is treated as grand theft.
When a person damages, takes, or destroys a property while committing or attempting to commit a felony and it is their intention to damage, take, or destroy the property, it is a violation of this Penal Code. The penalties increase as the value of the property increases. It begins with property valued at $65,000 or more.
When your attorney crafts your defense strategy, he will consider your case's circumstances. Every case is different, so defense strategies will be different. If you are confronting a grand theft auto charge in Orange County, there are several common defenses that your lawyer may use.
This can mean that you knew the car owner, and they may have given you access to the car keys, so you took the car believing that they had authorized you. This can be presented in many different ways to show that you did not intend to commit theft. Your lawyer will determine the best angle.
If you were not the one who actually stole the car, but the officers thought you were, you might have a good case for mistaken identity. You just need to prove it.
If your car was stolen and you were taking it back, you could claim this as a defense. This is pretty easy to prove and is typically an iron-clad defense. After all, the vehicle was yours, and it was stolen. You have every right to take it back from the thieves.
Sometimes the prosecution simply cannot gather enough evidence to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that you are guilty of criminal activity. If you can debunk their evidence and show that they don't have enough to convict you, you might win.
A first-time conviction for a misdemeanor vehicle theft charge can carry up to one year in jail. If you are charged with a felony, your sentence could be up to three years in prison or even more if it is classified as a felony or has a violent component. Penalties for grand theft auto and similar charges include:
A conviction involving grand theft auto will go onto your record and follow you for the rest of your life. It can also affect your job prospects and other areas of your life. That is why it is so important that you have an experienced attorney to help you.
Call The Law Offices of Frances Prizzia today for your free consultation and find out how we can help you. Don't wait to see what happens. Don't try to handle your case yourself. We have a proven track record and many happy clients. Let us help you too. Make the call.
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