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Grand Theft Auto Charges Defense

Grand Theft Auto Charges Defense Attorney in Tucson, AZ

You've probably heard the term grand theft auto before, but have you ever wondered exactly what it means? In the state of Arizona, grand theft auto is not considered a separate crime in and of itself. Instead, it's an umbrella term that refers to any vehicle theft involving the offender's malicious intent. So if you're being charged with a crime related to grand theft auto, know that our criminal defense attorney can help you through the legal process from start to finish!

What Is Grand Theft Auto?

Taking a vehicle without the owner's consent is considered grand theft auto. In a court of law, the prosecution must establish four elements to win these claims.

  • Appropriation of a motor vehicle: An automobile can be considered seized if it can be proved that the defendant had taken the car in the first place. Another owned the car: There must be proof that the defendant did not own the vehicle in a significant capacity when they took it.
  • Attempted to rob the vehicle owner: The prosecutor must prove that the defendant intended to deprive the owner of the vehicle, including selling the car. The crime might otherwise be regarded as a joyride instead of grand theft auto.
  • The vehicle was taken without consent: Moreover, there must be evidence that the defendant acted without the owner's permission. True consent cannot be achieved through deceit or coercion, as in any other circumstance.

What Are the Legal Consequences?

In Arizona, any motor vehicle crime conviction is a felony and becomes part of your permanent record. Typically, a prosecutor must prove that the defendant stole or drove a vehicle that belonged to another person with the intent to keep it permanently.

According to Arizona law, this type of vehicle theft can be divided into two categories, depending on the driver's intent. In other words, was the intention of the driver to permanently or temporarily deprive the owner of the vehicle?

Unauthorized Use of Transport Means

The use of a motor vehicle without authorization occurs when there is no intent to rob the owner of the car permanently. The unauthorized use of motor vehicles can take two forms.

  • In the first instance, a person knowingly takes control of another's vehicle without consent. A defendant is said to be in possession of the property if he acts to prevent others from using it except under his terms.
  • The act of taking a joy ride or borrowing a family member's car without permission can be classified as a Class 5 felony that can lead to a prison sentence of 6 months to 2.5 years.
  • An individual may also commit unauthorized use of means of transport by knowingly riding in a vehicle they know (or have reason to know) is stolen. Simply riding in a stolen car with reason to know that it's stolen is a felony. This is classed as a Class 6 crime punishable by four to two years in prison.

Theft of Means of Transportation

Auto theft is a Class 3 felony, punishable by 2 to 8.75 years in prison. There are several ways of committing auto theft.

  • An auto theft begins when you take control of another person's vehicle with the intent of permanently taking it. Control is defined as acting "to prevent others from using the property except on your terms.
  • The second type of auto theft occurs when a vehicle is entrusted to someone for a period of time. Auto theft occurs when that person controls the car for an extended period.
  • In a third instance, a person can steal a vehicle by misrepresenting or illegally obtaining the car, intending to rob the owner permanently.
  • Loss or misdelivery of a vehicle can also result in auto theft. If the circumstances allow someone to determine the true owner of a lost or misdelivered vehicle, and that person takes the car and makes no reasonable effort to contact the owner, they can be charged with auto theft.
  • Also, a person will commit auto theft if they control another person's vehicle while they know (or have reason to know) that it is stolen. You'd be surprised to learn that there is a presumption that someone had reason to know the property was stolen under the law!

To establish the presumption, the state must prove:

  • Possession of the stolen goods
  • Purchased the car from a dealer outside of their regular course of business.
  • Purchased it at a significant discount from its fair market value

Also, Lienholders and rental car companies can benefit from Arizona's criminal law. A lienholder can ask the state of Arizona to prosecute the lessee (the person who leased or purchased the vehicle) for a Class 6 felony charge if a person fails to make a car payment for over 90 days.

A person who fails to give back a rental vehicle within 72 hours of the rental agreement is liable for a Class 5 felony under Arizona criminal law.

Defending Against Grand Theft Auto Charges

Don't underestimate the seriousness of the situation you are about to face if you are charged with Grand Theft Auto Charges. You can be indicted, prosecuted, and convicted even if you are caught joyriding in a stolen car.

You can spend months or perhaps years trying to extricate yourself from the grip of the law, with numerous court appearances and incurring a lot of expense in doing so.

During your arraignment, the judge sets bail, so you'll have to post bond so the state will ensure you appear in court, or else you'll be held in jail. Our attorneys can assist you by setting bail, which means making a cash payment to the court to ensure you show up in court or you'll be jailed.

At Katsarelis Law, PLLC, we have over 14 years of experience defending people who have been charged with criminal charges, including those related to Grand Theft Auto. If you face criminal charges, choosing an attorney who knows how to win is essential. Contact us today for a free consultation, and let us put our experience to work for you. We offer a free consultation, so please call us today to learn more about how we can help you.

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