auto theft

Auto Theft in Texas

By Peek & Toland on June 26, 2019

Texas does not have separate statutes for auto theft; the offense falls under the regular theft statute. Under Tex. Pen. Code 31.03, individuals commit a theft when they unlawfully appropriate property with the intent to deprive the owner of the property. This means that individuals may face theft charges if they intentionally take a vehicle that does not belong to them, they took a car knowing that it is stolen, they drive a vehicle without the owner’s possession, or if they fail to return a rental car when it is due to back to the rental agency.

Auto Theft in Texas

Since theft crimes are classified according to the value of the property, the more the vehicle is worth, the higher the theft charge and the more severe the penalties. Prior criminal convictions also may impact the overall sanctions that individuals receive for auto theft. Most vehicles will fall in the $1,500 to $20,000 range, which makes the offense a state jail felony, or within the $20,000 to $100,000 for most new vehicles, which makes the offense a third-degree felony. For a state jail felony, the sentence of incarceration can range between 180 days and two years, along with a fine of up to $10,000. A third-degree felony conviction can result in a prison sentence of two to ten years, as well as a $10,000 fine.

Some defenses commonly arise in auto theft cases. For instance, if the individual had the consent of the owner to operate the vehicle, then there can be no auto theft. In other cases, if the individual had no intention of depriving the owner of the use or benefit of the vehicle, then there is no crime. When you are charged with any criminal offense in the state of Texas, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney to represent your interests from the very beginning of your case. Taking steps to get you released from jail and fight for your rights at the outset of your case is typically easier than waiting until your case has progressed. Contact Peek & Toland at (512) 474-4445 today and set up an appointment to speak with our legal team.

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Auto Theft, or Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle

By Peek & Toland on March 2, 2019

Tex. Pen. Code § 31.07 makes it illegal for anyone to intentionally and knowingly operate the boat, aircraft, or vehicle without the consent of the owner. Essentially, this is the code section that prosecutors often use to file charges of auto theft. However, if a vehicle is worth more than $30,000, then it could be charged as theft, since the value of the vehicle would necessitate third degree felony charges, which can have harsher potential penalties than state jail felony charges.

Unlike theft offenses, unauthorized use of a vehicle under this section does not require proof that the accused intended to deprive the owner of the vehicle of its benefits or use. As a result, simply “borrowing” a relative’s car or so-called joyriding by taking the neighbor’s vehicle both can result in felony charges. The level of proof required for an auto theft charge is far lower than that of theft in general.

Auto Theft, or Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle

Violation of this code section is a state jail felony. Conviction on a state jail felony may result in a jail term ranging from 180 days to two years, as well as a fine of up to $10,000. A felony conviction also likely eliminates certain civil rights, including the right to possess firearms, the right to sit on a jury, and the right to vote.

There may be defenses available in unauthorized use of a vehicle cases, depending on the circumstances. For instance, you may have mistakenly thought that you had the owner’s consent to use the vehicle, due to a miscommunication between you and the owner. If charged as theft, on the other hand, you may be able to argue that you did not intent to deprive the owner of the vehicle. Every case is different, so the defenses that are applicable in your case may vary.

When you are charged with any type of criminal offense in the state of Texas, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney to represent your interests from the very beginning of your case. Taking steps to get you released from jail and fight for your rights at the outset of your case is typically easier than waiting until your case has progressed. Contact Peek & Toland at (512) 474-4445 today and set up an appointment to speak with our legal team.

Posted in Theft Crimes

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