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It’s no secret that Californians love their cars. They depend upon them to get to work and attend social engagements. The wealth of cars in California means that there is a great deal of motor vehicle crime throughout the state. If you are under investigation for or have been charged with a motor vehicle crime in Los Angeles, then you need a capable, aggressive criminal defense attorney.
Typically, people associate joyriding with a teenager looking to have some fun. A car is stolen, perhaps with the intent of riding around with friends for a few hours before abandoning the car. Sometimes the perpetrators have been known to drop off the car in the same neighborhood where they found it, making it relatively easy for the owner to recover it. Nonetheless, charges for joyriding can be serious.
The prosecutor must prove that the defendant took a vehicle without the owner’s consent and that the defendant intended to deprive the owner of the use of the car for any period of time. Thus, even planning a short drive of just a few minutes can constitute joyriding. This crime may be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. First offenses are often misdemeanors unless the vehicle involved was an ambulance or police car. A conviction at the misdemeanor level can mean one year in county jail and a fine of no more than $5,000. If you have been accused of joyriding, then you need a competent Los Angles motor vehicle crime attorney on your side.
Grand Theft Auto
When a car is stolen and the alleged thief intended to permanently deprive the owner of the car then the defendant may be charged with grand theft auto. Technically, the prosecutor has the option of charging California grand theft auto as either a misdemeanor or felony. However, prosecutors nearly always choose to pursue felony charges. Anyone who is convicted of felony grand theft auto in Los Angles may be looking at 16 months, two years or three years in a county facility. They may also be ordered to pay fines up to $10,000. If the stolen car was worth $65,000 or more, then a year may be added to the sentence. When someone steals a car worth in excess of $200,000 they may be sentenced to an additional two years. Clearly, anyone charged with this crime needs a Los Angeles grand theft auto attorney to defend their rights in court.
This is perhaps considered the most serious motor vehicle crime because it involves using force or fear to deprive someone of a car. Carjacking is always prosecuted at the felony level. This offense differs from joyriding and grand theft auto in that the car is removed from the owner’s control while they are present. The use of force or fear makes this a particularly troubling offense, which means that the prosecutor vigorously pursues these charges.
Owning or Operating a Chop Shop
Stolen cars sometimes end up in a chop shop where they are dismantled and any identifying marks, like the vehicle identification number, are removed. The parts can be sold for a profit, but the police and the District Attorney consider this a particularly serious crime. In fact, many cities in California have special law enforcement departments devoted to finding and shutting down chop shops. Owners and operators of chop shops in California may be charged at either the misdemeanor or felony level, depending upon the specific circumstances of the crime and the individual’s criminal history. The most serious consequences may involve up to four years in a county jail and the potential for a $50,000 fine. If you have been charged with owning or operating a chop shop, then you need a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney to represent your interests in court.
Auto Insurance Fraud
This is an extremely prevalent crime in California, meaning that law enforcement agencies typically devote a large portion of their resources to pursuing these offenses. Auto insurance fraud may consist of reporting a car stolen and then filing a claim with the insurer, attempting to collect reimbursement when the car was never stolen in the first place. In addition to law enforcement, insurance companies themselves rely on investigators to ferret out instances of auto insurance fraud. Their goal is to prosecute these offenses, and they have been known to be very aggressive. If you have been accused of this crime, contact a Los Angeles auto insurance fraud attorney. Charges at the felony level are not unusual, and this can mean a prison term of between 16 months and five years as well as fines of up to $50,000.
Contact a Los Angeles Motor Vehicle Crimes Attorney
Many crimes in California that involve motor vehicles are charged at the felony level. This makes for particularly harsh sentences. Moreover, a conviction can make it hard to find employment in the future. The best way to get the charges against you reduced or dropped is through working with a qualified Los Angeles criminal defense attorney.
Whether you are charged with grand theft auto, running a chop shop or something else, your freedom and future may be in jeopardy. The lawyers at this firm have the legal knowledge and aggressive approach that are essential for challenging all motor vehicle crime charges in California. Contact us to learn more about our criminal defense services.