Los Angeles Grand Theft Auto Attorney

Criminal Lawyer in Los Angeles, CA

Have you been charged with grand theft auto in Los Angeles, CA? This serious criminal charge can carry harsh penalties. When your freedom is on the line, you deserve a sound defense and a passionate legal advocate to fight for you.

For more than 20 years, The Rodriguez Law Group has fought for the rights of our clients facing serious theft crimes. Contact our law office at (213) 995-6767 to schedule your free consultation with a Los Angeles grand theft auto attorney who will help you explore defense options.

How The Rodriguez Law Group Can Help if You’re Arrested for Grand Theft Auto in Los Angeles

Grand theft auto is a serious theft crime in Los Angeles, California. In addition to a grand theft auto charge, you can even be charged with other offenses such as auto burglary or carjacking which can increase the penalties you face. With your freedom and reputation on the line, you deserve an aggressive Los Angeles criminal defense attorney to fight for you.

The Rodriguez Law Group has represented clients facing serious theft charges for more than 20 years. Founding attorney Ambrosio E. Rodriguez spent 13 years as a Senior Deputy District Attorney prior to practicing criminal defense. Our law firm uses this insight into the prosecution’s tactics to build the strongest legal defense possible.

Ambrosio Rodriguez boasts a 10.0 Superb AVVO rating and has been featured prominently on national news for his expertise and insight.

When you choose The Rodriguez Law Group to represent you, we will:

  • Conduct a thorough investigation into your case
  • Protect your constitutional rights
  • Search for exculpatory evidence that can prove an alibi or raise reasonable doubt
  • Present the best possible legal defense to seek an acquittal or dismissal of your case
  • Exploit weaknesses in the prosecution’s case
  • Negotiate with the prosecution for a satisfactory plea bargain or reduced charges

When you are facing a felony theft offense, it isn’t just your freedom at risk; it’s also your reputation and professional future. Contact our law office today to schedule your free case review with a Los Angeles grand theft auto defense lawyer who will fight on your behalf.

What Is Grand Theft Auto in California?

Under California law, theft offenses are classified by the way in which an item or money is stolen and the value of the loss. Many theft offenses can be misdemeanors or felonies. In general, petty theft refers to the theft of belongings valued at under $950. Incidents exceeding this amount is considered grand theft.

California Penal Code Section 487(d) defines grand theft auto or “GTA” as the theft of a vehicle without the owner’s permission with the intent to steal and deprive the owner of the car. You may be charged with auto theft no matter how the vehicle was stolen, including under false pretenses or through embezzlement.

GTA can be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor depending on your intent and the circumstances. Felony grand theft may be charged when you intend to deprive the owner of their vehicle permanently or for an extended period of time.

How Proposition 47 Changed Grand Theft Auto Charges in California

However, Proposition 47 reduced the penalties for many theft offenses and reduced them from felonies to misdemeanors. This includes grand theft auto.

Under Prop 47, whether auto theft is a misdemeanor or felony now depends on the value of the vehicle and your prior criminal history.

  • If the value of the vehicle is under $950 and you have no specified prior conviction like a theft offense, you will be charged with a misdemeanor.
  • If the vehicle is valued at $950 or less and you have a prior conviction, you will be charged with felony theft.
  • If the vehicle is valued at more than $950, even if you do not have priors, you will be charged with felony grand theft.

Note that, in practice, most auto thefts are charged as felonies because most vehicles are valued at more than $950.

Joyriding or Unlawful Taking of a Vehicle

Depending on your intent when taking the vehicle, you may be charged with a lesser offense of joyriding or the unlawful taking or driving of a vehicle. This offense under Vehicle Code Section 10851 VC is a misdemeanor. You are likely to be charged with this offense if you only intended to take the vehicle for a short period of time.


A related offense to grand theft auto is carjacking. This offense is defined under Penal Code 215 PC as taking someone else’s vehicle in the immediate presence of the owner or a passenger using force or fear. This may be done with the intent to deprive the owner of the car permanently or temporarily.

Carjacking is a much more serious offense than grand theft auto. This is a felony and it is considered a violent felony and a “strike” offense under the Three Strikes law.

Carjacking can be charged instead of or in addition to grand theft auto.

What Are the Penalties for Grand Theft Auto in Los Angeles, CA?

The penalties for grand theft auto depend on whether it is charged as a misdemeanor or felony. The value of the vehicle and your criminal history can also affect the punishment.

  • Misdemeanor: When auto theft is charged as a misdemeanor, you face up to 6 months in county jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
  • Felony: When charged as a felony, you face potential jail time of 16 months, 2 years, or 3 years in county jail.

You may face a penalty enhancement if you are convicted of stealing a high-value car. The sentence can be increased by one year if the value of the vehicle was $65,000 or more. If the vehicle was worth at least $200,000, you face an additional two years.

Penalties For Lesser Offenses

Joyriding or unlawful taking of a vehicle is typically a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in county jail and a fine of up to $5,000 for a first offense.

If you are charged with carjacking instead of or in addition to grand theft, you face 3, 5, or 9 years in prison depending on your criminal record. If you have a prior strike conviction, your sentence can be doubled. If a carjacking victim suffers serious bodily harm, you can face an additional 6 years in prison. The sentence can also be enhanced to 10 years if a firearm is used, 20 years if a firearm is discharged, and life in prison if someone is killed by a firearm.

What Defenses Can Be Raised if I’m Accused of Grand Theft Auto in Los Angeles?

There are many possible defense strategies available when you are accused of grand theft auto. Depending on the details of your case, your Los Angeles defense lawyer may recommend the following defenses.

  • Lack of intent can be a strong defense to have your charge reduced from grand theft auto to joyriding. If you did not intend to permanently deprive the owner of the vehicle but instead planned to return or abandon it within hours, you may be charged with joyriding, a misdemeanor.
  • You may have been falsely accused of theft if you were the victim of mistaken identity. You may have even been given permission to borrow the vehicle but were then accused of theft by the owner who had a motive like revenge.
  • You may have a legal defense if you believed you had rightful possession of the vehicle. You may have been given permission to use the vehicle but there was not an agreement on when it should be returned. You may have even believed you rightfully owned the vehicle. Perhaps you purchased the car recently without knowing it was stolen.

Along with these defenses we may use in court, we will negotiate on your behalf with the prosecutor to seek a satisfactory plea deal. It may be in your best interests to plead to a lesser sentence if the prosecution has a strong case.

We will also investigate your case to determine if your constitutional rights were violated during your arrest and interrogation. If your rights were violated, evidence that was gathered may be excluded at trial. This may be enough to break the prosecution’s case against you.

Schedule a Free Case Evaluation with Our Los Angeles Theft Crimes Attorneys

Grand theft auto is not an automatic felony, but it’s still usually charged as a felony and comes with stiff penalties if convicted. If you have been arrested for car theft, carjacking, or joyriding in Los Angeles, it’s important to take action quickly to protect your rights. The Rodriguez Law Group is here to fight for the best possible outcome in your case.

Call our law office today for a free case review with an experienced Los Angeles grand theft auto attorney to begin exploring legal defenses.