Motor vehicle or auto theft is the criminal act of stealing or attempting to steal a motor vehicle. Motor vehicles include: automobiles, trucks, buses, coach, motorcycle, snowmobile and trailer. Auto theft is a growing and lucrative business and crosses all boundaries of criminals from petty break & enters to grand theft auto, so prosecutors are looking to make examples out of anyone charged with this crime, with maximum penalties, to deter potential criminals.
Grand theft auto, also referred to as “GTA,” is not just a video game. Rather, it is known as vehicle theft and / or just auto theft. It is defined as the unauthorized taking of another’s car with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of the car. It may be by force, trick or false pretenses. Sometimes, the suspect takes the car to a “chop shop” to have the car disassembled for money or the suspect intentionally fails to return a rental car.
Grand theft auto is a wobbler offense, which means that it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on how serious the crime was and your criminal history. If you’re convicted of a misdemeanor you could be looking at up to 364 days in jail, while a felony conviction can result as much as three years in jail. With such a significant difference between these two penalties, it’s easy to see why you need a criminal defense attorney on your side.
The difference between grand theft auto and carjacking is that carjacking requires the vehicle to be in the “immediate presence” of the owner. Carjacking is also considered a more serious crime because it requires that you used force or fear to commit the criminal act. Grand theft auto occurs when you steal a car when the owner of the vehicle is not near the car, such as a car in a parking lot or parked on the street.
For example, let’s say that “Joe” just robbed a convenience store but he didn’t have a getaway vehicle. So, immediately after robbing the store, Joe runs outside to the parking lot. In the parking lot, Joe sees a woman pulling out of a parking spot.
Joe runs up to the driver’s side window, points a gun at the woman behind the wheel and with urgency says, “Move over!” and he climbs behind the wheel and hauls out of the parking lot with the woman beside him. This is an example of carjacking.
When someone steals a car and takes it for a ride, he or she commits joyriding. This is usually a victimless crime where the owner is not even aware of anything happening until trying to find the car. Some of these crimes go completely unnoticed because the joyrider will take the car back before the owner knows that the vehicle was taken at all. However, if the perpetrator is caught, he or she usually faces joyriding charges for taking something that does not belong to him or her and drives it around without the consent of the owner. If the owner grants permission, this is usually not a crime.
Motor vehicle theft is similar to theft over $5,000 in that it carries with it a similar penalty. Someone who steals a motor vehicle, is guilty of an indictable offence and is liable to a maximum of 10 years imprisonment (s. 331.1(a), Criminal Code); or on summary conviction, to a maximum of 18 months imprisonment (s. 331.1(1)b), Criminal Code). Theft of a motor vehicle or vessel is unique because it does not require a valuation of the vehicle in order to determine the penalty structure.
The two primary defenses are that the defendant did not intend to permanently deprive the owner of the car or that the owner consented to the taking.
Intent – If a person takes a car but intends to return it to the owner, the person has not committed the crime of theft, only the crime of unlawful taking or driving of a car (also called joyriding). Joyriding is usually a misdemeanor and is a less serious offense than theft.
Consent – If the vehicle’s legal owner provided consent to the defendant to be in possession of the property, whether temporarily or permanently, a grand theft auto conviction is unlikely. Again, any available defenses will likely come down to intent and consent. Other defenses to theft in general may include intoxication, duress, or mistake of fact.
If you have been arrested and charged with Grand auto theft, then you need a good lawyer to defend you whether you have committed the crime or not.An attorney can tell you what you can expect in court and the likely outcome of your case based on the law in your province, the facts of your case, and the assigned judge and prosecutor. A criminal conviction can have a lasting negative impact on your life and the best way to avoid a criminal conviction is to work with an experienced attorney.
The very first step of bringing client onboard is to have a no obligation consultation.
Then comes the evaluation of the situation. And building the case background.
After building the whole case, now is the time to fight it in the court.
As we fight the case, we keep on collecting more information to support the case.