header-logo-3    Richard   C.   McConathy  
Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy
 [email protected]  
 
15110 Dallas Pkwy #400
  Dallas ,   Texas ,   75248   United States  
 
(972) 233-5700

This hCard created with the hCard creator.

Auto Theft

People can face serious penalties for allegations of auto theft, carjacking, or other unauthorized use of motor vehicles in the greater Dallas area. Convictions for this felony offense may result in extensive prison time, large fines, a possibly permanent criminal record, inability to pursue certain kinds of jobs, professions, or occupations, and/or ineligibility to apply for some kinds of higher education.

People need to know that auto theft charges do not necessarily have to result in convictions. A state prosecutor must prove a person committed every element of an offense beyond a reasonable doubt. 

This can be an extremely difficult burden to meet and may result in a dismissal or reduction of criminal charges against a person if a judge or jury has any doubt they committed the offense. Therefore, it is essential for a person to consult an experienced Dallas criminal defense attorney to help you identify your best legal defense.

Auto Theft Defense Lawyer in Irving, Dallas, Carrolton, Richardson, TX

If you have been arrested for automobile theft in Dallas, or any of the surrounding areas in Texas, including Garland, Irving, Grand Prairie, Denton, Plano, McKinney, Fort Worth, Arlington, Mesquite, Carrolton, Richardson, Lewisville, or Frisco, contact the Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy.

Richard McConathy is an aggressive Dallas criminal defense lawyer who will make every effort to fight the allegations against you. Contact The Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy at (972) 233-5700 about your carjacking allegations.

Auto Theft in Denton County

Texas does not have any kind of specific auto theft law, meaning any person who takes another person’s vehicle will usually be prosecuted under any one of multiple different statutes. The most common statute used to prosecute most auto theft offenders will be the state’s general theft law. 

Texas Penal Code § 31.03 establishes that a person can be charged with auto theft when they unlawfully take another person’s vehicle with the intent to deprive that person of their vehicle.

Taking another person’s vehicle is unlawful if:

  • An owner did not consent;
  • An alleged offender took a vehicle knowing it was a stolen vehicle; or
  • An alleged offender took a vehicle from law enforcement officers while knowing it was a stolen vehicle.

Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle in Denton

A person can also be charged with auto theft in Texas under the state’s unauthorized use law. Under Texas Penal Code § 31.07, a person may be charged with unauthorized use of a vehicle when they intentionally or knowingly operate another party’s vehicle propelled by a motor, boat, or airplane without consent.

Joyriding will be considered “unauthorized use of a vehicle.” This is different from theft because theft involves the intent to deprive an owner of property. If a person returns a vehicle to the owner, it could be charged as unauthorized use of a vehicle. This will be a state jail felony offense in Texas and can result in up to two years in state jail and a fine of up to $10,000.

auto theft

Carjacking Penalties in Denton County

Penalties for auto theft and carjacking are defined under Chapter 12 of the Texas Penal Code. The penalties may vary depending on the value of a vehicle stolen, whether an alleged offender has a previous criminal record, whether a weapon was used during the commission of an offense, whether any person was injured during the commission of an offense, and what statute an alleged offender is charged under. 

The most common penalties for auto theft in Dallas are as follows:

  • A person charged with auto theft can face a Class C misdemeanor conviction, which is punishable by a fine up to $500, if the value of the allegedly stolen property is less than $50.
  • A person charged with carjacking can face a Class B misdemeanor conviction, which is punishable by a jail sentence up to 180 days and/or a fine up to $2,000, if the value of the allegedly stolen property is $50 or more but less than $500.
  • A person charged with auto theft can face a Class A misdemeanor conviction, which is punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a fine up to $4,000, if the value of the property is valued at $500 or more but less than $1,500.
  • A person charged with carjacking can face a state jail felony conviction, which is punishable a jail sentence ranging from 180 days to two years and/or a fine up to $10,000, if the value of the allegedly stolen property is $1,500 or more but less than $20,000.
  • A person charged with auto theft can face a third-degree felony theft conviction, which is punishable by two to 10 years in prison and/or a fine up to $10,000, if the value of the allegedly stolen property is $20,000 or more but less than $100,000.
  • A person charged with carjacking can face a second-degree felony conviction, which is punishable by two to 20 years in prison and/or a fine up to $10,000, if the value of the allegedly stolen property is $100,000 or more but less than $200,000.
  • A person charged with auto theft can face a first-degree felony conviction, which is punishable by five to 99 years in prison or life imprisonment and/or a fine up to $10,000, if the value of the allegedly stolen property is $200,000 or more.
  • A person who is charged with unauthorized use of a vehicle can be convicted of a state jail felony. This degree of offense is punishable by 180 days to two years in jail and/or a fine up to $10,000.

For vehicles valued at between $750 and $2,499, alleged offenders can face Class A misdemeanor charges, punishable by one year in jail and/or a $4,000 fine. When a vehicle’s value is between $2,500 and $29,999, an alleged offender can face a state jail felony, punishable by two years in state jail and/or $10,000 fine. 

If a vehicle’s value was more than $30,000 but less than $150,000, an alleged offender will face a third-degree felony, punishable by 10 years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine. If the value of the stolen vehicle(s) ranges from $150,000 to $300,000, an alleged offender will face a second-degree felony, punishable by 20 years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine. If an alleged offender stole a vehicle worth $300,000 or more, they will face a first-degree felony charge, punishable by 99 years to life in prison and/or a $10,000 fine.

Aggravating factors that could increase the severity of the charges a person faces include the following:

  • An alleged offender was a public servant at the time of the theft, and the car they stole was under your job-related control
  • An alleged offender was a government contractor at the time, and the car they stole was under your job-related control
  • The property owner was an elderly adult or a nonprofit entity
  • An alleged offender caused a fire alarm to sound during the commission of the theft
  • An alleged offender disarmed or deactivated a fire alarm during the commission of the theft
  • Have a prior criminal record
  • Had a weapon in their possession
  • Caused any property damage
  • Caused anyone to sustain injuries
  • Caused a fatality

Carjacking can be elevated to aggravated robbery if an alleged offender uses or shows a deadly weapon, an alleged offender causes serious bodily injury, an alleged victim is a disabled person, or an alleged victim is a person 65 years old or older.

A number of possible defenses may be raised against auto theft charges. Examples may include an alleged offender being the owner of a vehicle, an owner consenting to letting an alleged offender drive a vehicle, an alleged offender never intending to deprive an owner of a vehicle, an alleged offender driving a vehicle believing it was not stolen, or the police violating an alleged offender’s rights against unlawful search and seizure.

If a person takes a car but intends to return it to the owner, the person has not committed the crime of theft, only the crime of unlawful taking or driving of a car (also called joyriding). Because joyriding involves a temporary (rather than permanent) deprivation, the penalties for joyriding tend to be less severe than auto theft.

Denton County Auto Theft Resources 

Facts + Statistics: Auto theft | III – Insurance Information Institute — The Insurance Information Institute (III) states that about $6.4 billion was lost to motor vehicle theft in 2019. The average dollar loss per theft was $8,886. Motor vehicles were stolen at a rate of 219.9 per 100,000 people in 2019, down from 230.2 in 2018. In 2019, 721,885 vehicles were stolen, down 4.0 percent from 751,885 vehicles in 2018.

Vehicle Theft Prevention | NHTSA — NHTSA notes that almost 700,000 people a year have cars stolen. Learn what you can do to reduce motor vehicle theft. Find ways to protect your ride and also read many statistics.

Find A Dallas County Defense Attorney for Auto Theft Charges | Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy

Contact the Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy today for a consultation about your alleged offense in Irving, Dallas, Carrolton, Richardson, and surrounding areas of Dallas County, Texas.

Call (972) 233-5700 or contact us online today for a consultation about your carjacking charges throughout Denton County in Texas and the surrounding counties of Collin County, Dallas County, and Tarrant County.

0/5 (0 Reviews)
0/5 (0 Reviews)