Criminal Defense in Orange County
Accused of Motor Vehicle Theft?

Motor Vehicle Theft in Orange County

Defense from a Top Anaheim Criminal Attorney

Though California law defines both grand theft auto and "joyriding" as taking someone else's property without consent of the owner, there are distinct differences between the two that at first may seem small, but are pivotal in the determination of a penalty.

Motor vehicle theft laws in California can be divided into two different offenses:

  • Grand theft auto, under Penal Code (d)(1)PC, or
  • The unlawful driving or taking of a motor vehicle (commonly known as "joyriding"), under California Vehicle Code 10851 VC.

Grand Theft Auto

Grand theft auto is a specific type of grand theft, and is defined as the taking and keeping of a vehicle without expressed consent from the owner. It is important to point out that grand theft auto exists in several forms.

Such As:

  • "borrowing" a parked car with the keys, without owner's consent;
  • "hotwiring" a parked vehicle;
  • Carjacking;
  • Stealing an unattended car with the keys visible or in the ignition; and
  • Purchasing a car with questionable funds.


Joyriding is the unlawful, temporary taking and driving of a vehicle without consent from the owner. By California state law, joyriding is still considered motor vehicle theft even with the intent of returning the vehicle. If you have been arrested and are facing a motor vehicle theft charge, it is crucial that you contact Criminal Defense Attorney Barney B. Gibbs to ensure a strong defense for your case.

Penalties for Motor Vehicle Theft

The penalties for motor vehicle theft can range from minor to severe. In California, the severity of a motor vehicle theft charge hinges on how long you intended to take the vehicle. If you intended to borrow the car temporarily, you may be facing a misdemeanor charge with a maximum of up to one year in county jail, a fine of up to five thousand dollars, or both.

However, if you took the car with the intent of keeping it permanently, you may be facing a felony charge. Though the state of California usually treats all forms of grand theft auto as felonies, there are factors that can influence the severity of a grand theft auto charge. For example, stealing a highly valuable or expensive car, stealing an ambulance, or having prior vehicle theft convictions are all factors that could enhance your penalty. Attorney Gibbs understands these factors, and with his knowledgeable assistance, can fight to get your charges reduced.


Theft crimes are extremely complex, and motor vehicle theft crimes are no different. That is why it is crucial for your lawyer to be well-versed and knowledgeable when defending you against a motor vehicle theft charge.

While there are many defenses a lawyer can provide, some common legal defenses may include:

  • You didn't intend to steal the car;
  • Owner's consent;
  • False accusation; or
  • The car or property belonged to you.

A savvy Anaheim theft crime attorney not only understands these complexities and important factors, but can use them to your advantage. To help ensure that you receive just reward and are not simply given the maximum penalty, The Law Office of Barney B. Gibbs can help defend you against motor vehicle theft charges.

Find a Motor Vehicle Theft Attorney in Anaheim, CA

As you can see, grand theft auto is not just a fun video game. Violating California's motor vehicle laws can carry serious charges, and in either case of grand theft auto or motor vehicle theft, the possibility of jail time or heavy fines are great. Without the proper representation, both penalties are a very real possibility. Fortunately, with the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney, you may be able to get your charges reduced or dismissed entirely. If you find yourself faced with one of these motor vehicle theft charges, you will need the help of experienced grand theft attorneys who have a thorough and precise knowledge of California theft laws.

Contact an Anaheim criminal defense attorney from The Law Office of Barney B. Gibbs to receive the aggressive and personalized legal defense you deserve.


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