Every crime in California is defined by a specific code section. Our attorneys explain the law, penalties and best defense strategies for every major crime in California.
Joyriding is a crime where you take, drive or use someone else’s motor vehicle without consent, but you don’t intend permanently to steal the vehicle. Joyriding is different from grand theft auto in terms of:
Note that joyriding is sometimes referred to as the “unauthorized use of a motor vehicle.”
Most states say that both joyriding and grand theft auto can lead to serious misdemeanor or felony charges. Please contact a skilled criminal defense attorney today if you or a loved one is facing allegations of either offense.
Yes. Most state laws say that the main difference between the two crimes relates to how long an offender intends to keep a vehicle away from its owner.
You are typically only guilty of grand theft auto if you intend to permanently deprive a vehicle owner of the person’s vehicle.
In contrast, you can face joyriding charges by just taking a car without the consent of the owner. Guilt does not require that you intended to permanently keep the auto away from its owner.
Consider California law as an example. The law says that you commit grand theft auto if you:
However, California law says that a prosecutor can bring a joyriding case if you:
So, for California, and most other states, joyriding requires that you just intend to deprive a vehicle owner of the car for any period of time, even half an hour or less. But grand theft auto requires an intent to steal a car permanently or for a long period of time.
Most often, yes. Most states say that you are only guilty of grand theft auto if the value of the stolen vehicle is above a certain threshold. The value of stolen cars usually does not matter with a joyriding offense.
For example, Illinois law says that you are guilty of grand theft auto if the value of the stolen vehicle exceeds $500.3 You will likely still face criminal charges for vehicle theft/car theft if the value of the stolen auto is $500 or below. However, you will likely face petty theft charges as opposed to grand theft charges.
Most states, though, say that the value of a vehicle does not come into play in determining if you are guilty of joyriding. The value may ultimately impact the sentence for the crime, but value is not an element of the crime.
Most often, yes. State laws can vary when it comes to whether a prosecutor will charge grand theft auto or joyriding as a felony or a misdemeanor.
But with that said, grand theft auto offenses are generally considered felony theft crimes. Joyriding, in contrast, will typically lead to either misdemeanor or felony charges.
Felony charges, in general, carry more severe penalties than misdemeanor charges.
Most states say that a felony conviction is typically punishable by:
Most states say that a misdemeanor is typically punishable by:
Penalties for both types of crimes may increase if you have a criminal history.
Please note that no matter how a prosecutor files a joyriding or auto theft offense, people should contact criminal defense lawyers for help.
Most criminal defense law firms and joyriding lawyers provide free consultations. This means you can gain legal advice without spending a dime.
Further, the communications with an attorney are most often protected by the attorney-client relationship. A lawyer cannot disclose your confidences with someone else without usually first gaining your consent.
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