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Grand Theft Auto | PC 487(d)(1)

Grand Theft Auto Defense | Los Angeles Criminal Defense

The theft of a motor vehicle is seen as one of the most serious forms of robbery. Grand theft auto, or GTA, is defined under California Penal Code Section 487(d)(1) as the taking of a vehicle without the consent of the owner and with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of said vehicle. Grand theft auto in California is considered a wobbler offense, meaning the charge could be a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on aggravating factors and prior criminal record.

Takakjian & Sitkoff, LLP has defended many clients charged with GTA over the last 25 years. Since a necessary element of the crime of GTA requires that there be “intent to permanently deprive,” we have defended numerous GTA cases by successfully attacking that issue.


You face harsher penalties if you are accused of carjacking, which is described by California Penal Code Section 215 as taking a vehicle from another person by force or fear. An armed robbery charge may accompany a carjacking offense if a firearm was used in the commission of the crime.

Grand Theft Auto Vs. Joyriding

Depending on the facts of your case, you may be charged with a variety of automobile or auto part theft crimes. The unlawful taking or driving of a vehicle — commonly referred to as joyriding — is governed by California Vehicle Code Section 10851(a), which makes it illegal to permanently or temporarily take and drive a vehicle without the consent of the owner.

Grand theft auto is routinely confused with joyriding, but these are two separate offenses. However, depending on the circumstances of the case, a person could be charged with both crimes. Arrest and prosecution for joyriding is not limited to the person actually driving the vehicle: You could be charged as an accomplice if you are a passenger in a vehicle being driven without the owner’s consent. Joyriding is usually prosecuted as a misdemeanor crime, and therefore viewed as a lesser offense than GTA. However, a joyriding conviction carries a maximum penalty of up to a $5,000 fine and/or up to one year in county jail.

The Stolen Property Conflict

Another common theft crime is possession of a stolen vehicle or parts. This charge of receiving stolen property is described under California Penal Code section 496(a) as purchasing or possessing property that is known to be stolen or illegally obtained. In addition, you could be charged with this type of offense if you attempt to sell property that is known to be stolen or illegally obtained. Receiving stolen property is a wobbler offense that can be prosecuted as a felony if the value of the property exceeds $950 or the defendant has a prior criminal record of theft-related convictions.

The key element in preparing a defense against this particular theft crime is attacking the prosecutor’s contention that the defendant “knowingly” possessed or intended to sell property that he or she knew to be stolen or illegally obtained and further demonstrating that the defendant made a reasonable attempt to ascertain the origin of the property in question. A conviction for receiving stolen property carries a maximum penalty of up to one year in county jail or state prison.

For assertive assistance in fighting your auto theft allegations, contact us

Learn more about auto theft allegations and what you can do to fight the charges. With so much at stake, do not delay in calling Takakjian & Sitkoff, LLP at 888-579-4844 or contacting us online to schedule your free initial consultation. To protect your rights after your arrest, our attorneys make after-hours appointments and custody visits.