The definition of grand theft auto is to take someone else’s car without permission and with the intent permanently or significantly deprive the owner of it. The offense is a type of auto theft. In most of the regions.
What is the crime of grand theft auto?
Grand theft auto or GTA is a type of auto theft. Some states call it by a different name, like:
- larceny of a vehicle,
- felony theft,
- first-degree theft,
- auto theft,
- car theft, or
- motor vehicle theft.
Types of Grand Theft Auto
In general, there are two ways in which an individual may steal an automobile. The conditions surrounding the vehicle generally determine which type of theft has occurred.
If an individual steals a car that is occupied by forcibly removing the driver and taking the car without permission, then the grand theft auto committed is considered carjacking. This crime may carry additional charges if deadly weapons were involved or if the driver was injured during the robbery.
If an individual steals an unoccupied car, then he or she has committed a straightforward theft. In addition to breaking into the unoccupied car, the individual must start the car and take it without permission for the act to be considered grand theft auto.
While some larceny crimes are deemed “petty crimes” because of the low value of the items stolen, grand theft auto ascribes a more severe charge to a larceny crime because the item (the car) is worth so much. Grand theft auto is typically charged as a felony and can result in jail time of a year or more.
Is grand theft auto the same as joyriding?
You are typically only guilty of grand theft auto if you intend to permanently deprive a vehicle owner of the person’s vehicle. In contrast, you can face joyriding charges by just taking a car without the consent of the owner. Guilt does not require that you intended to permanently keep the auto away from its owner.
In Canada, there are two categories regarding theft: Over $5,000 and theft under $5,000. Theft that is under $5,000 is considered petty, although the crime will be taken very seriously by the Crown. Even if you are a first-time offender and the value of the stolen item is low, you may still end up with a criminal record.
If the theft is over $5,000, it is considered more serious and is an indictable offence that could put you in prison for up to 10 years.
If you are convicted in Canada, there are different sentences that might be used. The sentence is based on the specific situation and the surrounding circumstances. For example, the court might consider:
- The value of the goods
- Pre-existing criminal record
- Stealing from an employer
- The level of trust that was breached
If you have a previous criminal record, and current theft charges, the sentence is likely to be more severe. In basic terms, Canada’s Criminal Code grants up to two years in prison for thefts under $5,000. For grand larceny theft over $5,000, the Code allows up to 10 years of prison time.
The defenses by grand theft auto lawyers in Oakville begin with consent of the owner. This can be a tough defense to assert because the owner is most often the person who calls police to begin the case. Usually, the police, before going to the trouble of investigating further, make sure that the owner’s permission was never given for the client to take the car. However, the client may argue or believe that because the owner gave the client permission to use the car in the past, such permission continued.
What are some legal defenses to a grand theft auto charge?
Criminal defense lawyers can raise several legal defenses to fight against a charge of grand theft auto. Some of the most common include:
- the defendant did not intend to steal the vehicle,
- the defendant had a good faith belief that the car was their own,
- the owner’s deprivation was not significant enough to amount to grand theft auto,
- the owner of the vehicle consented or gave the defendant permission to take the car, and
- the owner is knowingly making false accusations that the defendant stole the car.