All thefts of property valued at more than $300 are considered grand theft, and are felony offenses. Grand theft auto, as the name suggests is the theft of a motor vehicle valued at more than $300. Grand theft auto takes place when an individual:
•Willingly and illegally obtains, uses, or attempts to obtain or use, an automobile or vehicle belonging to another person.
•Intentionally deprives the owner or driver of the automobile or vehicle, or any benefit arising from the vehicle, or appropriates the vehicle for personal use or for the use of another person who is not entitled to use it.
Various ways that Grand Theft Auto may be Committed
Crimes of grand theft auto can take place in various ways and in different circumstances, which makes each case quite complex. Here are a few examples of the various forms in which this crime is committed:
- Stealing a parked vehicle by joining the ignition wires, popularly known as “hotwiring”
- Stealing a parked vehicle by acquiring the actual keys from the owner either by deception or some other illegal means
- Stealing the vehicle by carjacking, where the driver or owner is forcibly evicted from the vehicle or forced to drive under some threat
- Stealing a car by taking advantage of an opportunity like when it is left unattended with the keys inside or when a car is left running and the driver is not present
Value of Vehicle Stolen
Grand Theft Auto is a felony charge; however, the severity of the sentence will again depend on the value of the vehicle. If the value of the stolen vehicle is more than $300 but less than $20,000, it is considered a third degree felony charge, punishable with up to five years jail time, up to $5,000 fine or a combination of these penalties. For grand theft auto to be a second-degree felony, the value of the stolen vehicle should be $20,000 or more, but less than $100,000.
This charge is punishable with up to 15 years in prison and up to $10,000 fine. If the value of the stolen vehicle is $100,000 or more, then it is a first-degree felony offense, punishable with maximum jail term of 30 years, up to $10,000 fine or any combination of both penalties. The severity of the crime is also determined by the level of violence used while perpetrating the crime. Other factors that have an impact on sentencing are prior criminal record of the accused, whether the victim suffered any injuries, whether other people were put in danger during the crime, and if any weapons were used in the crime.
Driver License Suspension, Civil Liability & Three Strikes Law
Apart from jail sentences and fines, a person convicted of grand theft auto can also face the loss of driving privileges, and probation. The person could also face a civil suit, if he or she has caused any damage to the stolen vehicle. Florida also applies the “Three Strikes Law” to grand theft auto, which is mandatory minimum penalty for repeat offenders and career criminals.
Our Florida criminal defense law firm offers aggressive and skilled representation to individuals accused of Theft in Broward County. Speak to theft defense attorney William Moore directly at 954-523-5333.