Houston Auto Theft Attorney
Being charged with grand theft auto is a serious crime that comes with heavy consequences. Auto theft is classified as “grand theft” because of the value of the car. In general, the more valuable the property, the steeper the consequences. In Texas, there are a couple of different ways auto theft can be classified:
- Carjacking is defined as taking a car from the owner by force or threat of force. This is generally charged as a felony crime
- Joyriding is operating a vehicle without the owner’s consent. In contrast to traditional auto theft, a joyrider intends on returning the vehicle.
- In other cases, a car may be taken without an owner’s permission and without intent of returning. If this is done without force or threat of force, it falls under Texas theft laws.
- Failing to return a rental car can be prosecuted under statutes involving theft in Texas.
When You Are Charged With Auto Theft
Motor vehicle theft sentences vary greatly. Most motor vehicle thefts and joyriding are classified as state felonies. If convicted, you could serve from 180 days to 10 years in jail, as well as pay fines up to $10,000. So, it is important to take some basic steps when facing charges:
- Remember your right to remain silent. This is one of your most important rights, and it is one you should exercise. Never sign any documentation in police custody without the presence of legal representation. Too often, defendants are coerced into signing confessions or other sworn statements. When you are arrested, do not answer questions before consulting a lawyer. Always be compliant; however, it is in your best interest to politely ask for legal representation.
- You should enlist the help of a competent legal team as soon as possible. The sooner you retain legal services, the sooner we can begin building your case for a jury.
Defenses for Auto Theft
The first step in any criminal case is getting your side of the story. Once your legal team has a description of your version of events, it can go to work defending your case. Though the narrative of your defense will vary depending on the circumstances surrounding the incident, there are a few common ways to successfully defend auto theft:
- In the case of joyriding, a defendant can claim he or she had, or believed he or she had, the owner’s consent. If a lawyer can convince a jury that the defendant had permission to use the vehicle, there is no crime.
- In the case of auto theft, a defendant can claim he or she never intended to specifically deprive the plaintiff ownership of the vehicle. In this case, the defendant would not be committing auto theft, but joyriding.
In criminal cases, prosecutors bear the burden of proof. Therefore, it is up to them to prove to the jury beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed the theft. We can establish doubt by looking at gaps in the evidence or identifying inconsistencies in eyewitness testimony.
Having an Experienced Advocate at Your Side
When you are facing serious charges, it is important to have a law firm with the experience and record to get you the results you want. We have defended over 4,000 criminal cases and have over a decade of experience in defending auto theft. Whether it is getting the charges dropped or having the punishment minimized, we will work hard to fight for your rights.
We understand how confusing the legal system can be, so we keep you informed at every step of the process. This allows you to make the best decisions regarding your case. If you have questions, or if you would like to schedule a free initial consultation, we invite you to contact us.