Is it Joyriding or Could I Be Charged with Grand Theft Auto?

Posted on by New Mexico Criminal Law Offices

Criminal Defense Attorney Fighting Grand Theft Auto Charges on behalf of New Mexico Teens

teens out joyridingGrand theft auto and joyriding share a lot of similarities. After all, you are taking a vehicle that is not yours and driving it. Whether you intend to keep the car or return it after your adventure, there is an important distinction that determines how much time you spend in jail – and if you are charged with a felony or not.

In its simplest of definitions, joyriding refers to the act of taking a car without the intent to deprive the owner permanently of the vehicle. Grand theft auto, however, is when you plan to permanently deprive drivers of their vehicles.

Determining the “Intent” of One’s Actions

Deciding if a person intended to deprive the owner of the car permanently or temporarily is typically based on how the stolen vehicle act occurred.

For example, if you were truly joyriding, you are most likely a teenager taking your parent’s car for a ride without permission. You obviously do not plan to take the car forever, and you have the intention of bringing it back home before your parents find out. However, this is still joyriding. And when you intend to joyride, you still face criminal charges.

Now, if the same vehicle was found at a chop-shop or it was put up for sale, then it was obvious that you intended to deprive the owner of the vehicle for much longer than just a quick ride; therefore, you are committing grand theft auto.

What Charges Will I Face for Joyriding or Grand Theft Auto?

The circumstances behind the theft are what will determine the charges and penalties you face.

New Mexico statutes do not have a specific law on vehicle theft; instead, it is prosecuted as a larceny-type theft. Therefore, if you were to steal a car with the intent of permanently depriving the owner, you are going to face a larceny charge. These charges could range from a petty misdemeanor to a second-degree felony – and the penalties will vary depending on which are charged.

If you were charged with joyriding, you are still committing a second, third, or fourth degree felony. Therefore, you could face a prison sentence for doing so, as well as a permanent record that keeps you from obtaining jobs, loans, and federal assistance all for a single act of “innocent” fun.

The punishments for theft crimes can vary significant. For example, if you are charged with larceny, and the vehicle’s market value was $15,000 or more, you could face up to three years in prison and a fine of as much as $5,000.

If, however, you were joyriding in a vehicle that was only worth $2,000, you may face a fourth-degree felony and a potential jail sentence of as much as 18 months.

Don’t Let Innocent Fun Turn into a Felony Conviction – Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney

While you were performing an innocent teenage prank, you are still liable for your actions. Therefore, if you have been arrested for joyriding, you may face a felony conviction that will permanently affect your life.

Avoid the harsh penalties and jail time by contacting a criminal defense team that may be able to help. There are numerous defenses to these types of crimes, so let the criminal defense lawyers at New Mexico Criminal Law Offices help.

Schedule a free case evaluation at 505-375-4661 or contact us online.