In Texas, the laws related to stealing a car, truck, or other motor vehicle fall under the state’s other theft laws. Defined in TX Penal Code Ch 31.03, these laws define possible penalties if convicted based on the value of the stolen item or items. This means you could face significant consequences for stealing a vehicle, especially if it is worth more than $30,000.
Penalties may be enhanced even further if the vehicle value tops $150,000, if you carry a deadly weapon during the commission of the crime, or if you have a history of felony convictions.
Understanding TX Penal Code Ch 31.03
TX Penal Code Ch 31.03 is the state’s general theft law. Many people seem surprised to learn that Texas does not have a specific stolen car or “grand theft auto” law. Stealing a car falls under the same law as shoplifting, stealing livestock, or committing a number of other types of theft.
By definition, theft occurs when a person takes some type of property—in this case a motor vehicle—with the intent to deprive the owner of that property. This can include taking the property for a short period with the intention of returning it or never planning to return it.
Driving a vehicle that does not belong to you may fall under this definition of theft if:
- You do not have the owner’s consent to take possession of the vehicle.
- Someone else stole the vehicle, and you knowingly take possession of it.
- A police officer, often in the course of undercover work, tells you a vehicle is stolen, and you knowingly take possession of it.
The severity of the charges you may face if law enforcement accuses you of grand theft auto vary depending on the value of the vehicle. In general, you could face:
- A state jail felony if the value of the stolen vehicle falls between $2,500 and $30,000.
- A third-degree felony if the value of the stolen vehicle falls between $30,000 and $150,000.
Potential Penalties for a Grand Theft Auto Conviction in Texas
Under TX Penal Code Ch 12, you could face serious consequences if convicted of theft. This is especially true if the court finds you had a weapon with you or if you have a criminal history. Possible penalties for grand theft auto in Texas include:
Third-Degree Felony Grand Theft Auto
If they convict you of a third-degree felony, you could face two to 10 years in a state prison. You could also face a fine not to exceed $10,000.
State Jail Felony Grand Theft Auto
If they convict you of a state jail felony, you could face six months to two years in a state jail and a fine not to exceed $10,000.
It is important to note that a charge listed as a state jail felony may actually draw a sentence more in line with a third-degree felony in some cases. Most commonly, this occurs if you had a deadly weapon and exhibited or used it during the theft or if you have a history of felony convictions.
Attorney Randall B. Isenberg Can Fight Texas Grand Theft Auto Charges
Attorney Randall Isenberg can help you pursue a favorable outcome in your Dallas-Ft. Worth-area grand theft auto case. Isenberg has been a criminal defense attorney for more than 30 years and is also a former prosecutor and state district judge. He knows how the prosecutors in your case will work to collect evidence against you, and he will counter it with a strong defense.
He will investigate the circumstances that led to your arrest, listen to your side of the story, and take aggressive action to try to:
- Prevent you from facing charges.
- Get the charges against you reduced or dropped.
- Prove mistaken identity.
- Prove you had permission to take the car.
- Work out a plea deal.
- Pursue another favorable outcome in your case.
You can reach someone from the Law Offices of Randall B. Isenberg about your auto theft case today.
Talk to a Texas Grand Theft Auto Attorney
The criminal defense team from the Law Offices of Randall B. Isenberg serve clients facing allegations or charges in Dallas-Fort Worth, TX, and surrounding areas. We can review your case and help you build a strong defense strategy in your grand theft auto case. Call us now at 214-696-9253 to get started.