Grand Theft Auto Criminal Charges in California

The beautiful sunshine state has seen a rise in grand theft auto cases over the last few years. In 2019, more than 150,000 cars were stolen in California. In 2020, numbers increased to over 180,000. Although these numbers are on the rise, some taken vehicles may not be stolen after all. In many cases, grand theft auto charges are filed, and a car is reported stolen even when someone granted permission to use the vehicle or permission was assumed. What typically happens is communication breaks down somewhere along the way. Not uncommon is someone forgetting to tell another person they’ve loaned the car out, or the person who is lending the car forgot they said it was ok. If you are borrowing someone’s car, make sure there are witnesses to the verbal agreement or, if possible, get permission in some form of writing, such as a text. If you have any documentation that supports you borrowed the car with approval, that is significant in fighting grand theft auto charges in California.

Find a Local Criminal Defense Attorney

Suppose you are facing grand theft auto charges. In that case, it is best to immediately contact a criminal defense attorney in your area so they can help fight the charges and counter the prosecution’s evidence. Trying to represent oneself in the courts is challenging, and often deadlines are forgotten, or paperwork is missing. When looking for an experienced criminal defense attorney, find one familiar with your area so the relationships they have and their inside knowledge work in your favor. Hiring exceptional legal representation established in the city where you were arrested makes a significant difference. If an attorney represents you, you are more likely to have a resolution sooner and certainty that nothing critical is missed that may benefit you. Any delay can be disruptive to your life, and additional court dates can make keeping other commitments challenging.

California Grand Theft Auto

In California, if a vehicle is taken without the owner’s permission and the car is valued at more than $950, it is considered grand theft auto, which is addressed in Penal Code 487(d)(1). If found guilty of felony charges, the penalties can be severe and include jail time and hefty fines up to $5,000. When a grand theft auto has taken place, and the charges are more severe, other charges such as endangerment, assault, or robbery are usually included.

If the courts determine the charges are felonies, everyday life abruptly stops. If you have a family and are responsible for transportation, you can no longer provide that. If you have a job, you must quit to serve your sentence. If your criminal defense attorney can negotiate home arrest, it can be costly and has many limitations that should be considered. Most people can't know all the best defense options, how to plea bargain, and how to fight evidence and witnesses presented by the prosecution. Instead of going through this alone, calling for a free consultation makes a world of difference. A reputable and experienced attorney will ask relevant questions during your one-hour call and offer advice and suggest the next steps for your specific case. Once you retain the best legal representation available in your city, you can rest more easily knowing someone is diligently working for the best outcome in your case.

Wobbler Charges Require Expertise

In California, grand theft auto is considered a wobbler charge. Despite its non-threatening name, a wobbler charge means the charges can go either way, like a Weeble Wobble (a popular toy in the 70s). A wobbler charge is a hybrid offense that can be tried as a misdemeanor or a felony. Anyone facing criminal charges in California prefers the lesser of the two, meaning lower fines and shorter jail time sentences. Misdemeanor charges also allow experienced criminal defense attorneys to work to find the most manageable way to pay the penalties for each client.

Criminal defense attorneys like Joni Eisenstein bring more than 27 years of experience handling grand theft auto and similar cases in San Diego County. Joni's knowledge of the law and California's unique interpretations of the laws make her invaluable in providing expertise in criminal cases. Attorney Eisenstein understands how disruptive facing criminal charges is to home and family life, and she works tirelessly to fight for her clients. The testimonials of those she has represented reveal how hard she works and the successful results she can achieve.

Again, most people have no idea the numerous options available when facing grand theft auto charges. Whether it is filing paperwork with the courts right away to protect the suspect, finding mistakes in the way the arrest was handled, arguing against the prosecution’s evidence and witnesses on the front end, or having someone knowledgeable and relentless by your side in court, hiring a criminal defense attorney is the only way to handle grand theft auto charges in California.

If you are on the fence about hiring a defense attorney, stop thinking about it, and do it now

Hiring a criminal defense attorney like Joni Eisenstein can help you go from a place of uncertainty to freedom.