Unlike most other states, the State of Texas does not have specific charges that relate to auto theft. Instead, charges that relate to auto theft can be brought under a variety of different statutes, which helps to make the whole matter that much more complicated. Factors such as the value of the vehicle and whether or not the car’s owner was present at the time of the theft help determine if the charge will be brought as a misdemeanor or a felony, and the attendant penalties also vary significantly.
Grand Theft Auto Is More than a Video Game
The charge of grand theft auto (in states that address this charge) refers to taking someone else’s car with the intention of keeping it from its owner permanently. The following can also earn you a grand theft auto conviction:
- Purchasing a car that does not come with a proper title
- Failing to file the necessary paperwork upon purchase or receipt of a car
- Failing to return a rental car (Have you been involved in a car accident while driving a rental car? Click here to read more about how to proceed)
In the State of Texas, because there is no specific charge addressing auto theft, these charges are brought under the state’s general theft statute.
The Penalties You Face
Texas theft charges and attendant penalties – as they related to cars or anything else – are classified in the following ways:
- Theft of less than $500 is a Class B misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to 180 days in jail and by up to $2,000 in fines.
- Theft of from $500 to $1,500 is a Class A misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to 1 year in jail and by up to $4,000 in fines.
- Theft of from $1,500 to $20,000 is a state jail felony, which is punishable by from 180 days to 2 years in state prison and by up to $10,000 in fines.
- Theft of $20,000 to $100,000 is a third-degree felony, which is punishable by from 2 to 10 years in prison and by up to $10,000 in fines.
The charges and associated penalties continue rising from here.
Charges that relate to auto theft in Texas include both carjacking and joyriding. Carjacking refers to taking someone’s vehicle via threat or force, and it is prosecuted under robbery charges in Texas. (How to fight robbery charges) Joyriding, on the other hand, refers to operating someone else’s car without their consent, and the official charge is unauthorized use of a vehicle, which is a state jail felony that is punishable by from 180 days to 2 years in state prison and by up to $10,000 in fines.
An Experienced Lawyer Can Help
Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard – proudly serving Killeen, Texas – is a formidable criminal defense attorney with reserves of experience successfully guiding cases like yours toward optimal resolutions. For more information about what we can do to help you, please don’t hesitate to contact or call us at 254-501-4040 today.