Many states have statutes that directly address grand theft auto, but Texas is not among them. In Texas, auto theft is not specifically covered by a statute. Instead, any charges are based on the circumstances involved and the nature of the alleged crime. In other words, if you are charged with an auto theft crime in Texas, it is complicated, but it can help to understand the legal basics.
Grand Theft Auto
While grand theft auto is not specifically addressed in Texas law, it is useful to understand what the term means. The definition of grand theft auto is taking someone else’s vehicle without their permission – with no intention of returning it to its rightful owner. Other actions can also be classified as grand theft auto, including:
- Failing to file the appropriate legal paperwork after receipt of or purchase of a vehicle
- Purchasing a vehicle that does not have a proper title
- Failing to return a rental car (Read more about car accidents and rental cars)
Because this offense – as described – is not specifically addressed in Texas law, such actions are prosecuted under the state’s general theft statute. As such, the attendant penalty is based solely on the allegedly stolen vehicle’s value.
Sentencing and Penalties
The penalties and sentence you face if you are charged with the theft of a car (or anything else) depend upon the value of the allegedly stolen car, and this breaks down as follows:
- If the car is worth less than $500, it is a Class B misdemeanor that can earn you up to $2,000 in fines and up to 180 days in jail.
- If the car is worth between $500 and $1,500, it is a Class A misdemeanor that can earn you up to $4,000 in fines and up to a year in jail.
- If the car is worth between $1,500 and $20,000, it is a state jail felony that can earn you up to $10,000 in fines and up to 2 years in state prison.
The fines and penalties progress from here, culminating in up to $10,000 in fines and from 5 to 99 years in state prison (for vehicles worth in excess of $200,000). Those found guilty of auto theft are often required to pay their victims the equivalent of their vehicles’ values in restitution – plus another $1,000 for the trouble caused.
Facing Auto Theft Charges? Contact an Experienced Killeen Criminal Defense Attorney
Charges involving the theft of a vehicle in Texas are serious charges, and if you are facing such charges, you are well-advised to obtain the professional legal counsel of an experienced criminal defense attorney. Attorney Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard in Killeen, Texas, has extensive experience aggressively defending the rights of clients like you, and he is committed to building your strongest defense. We are on your side, so please do not hesitate to contact or call us at 254-501-4040 for more information today.