Any person in Austin or elsewhere in Texas that steals a vehicle can be charged for an auto theft crime if they use or steal a vehicle without the permission of the owner. They are expected to go to a correctional facility for committing this illegal infraction. The law also states that people might be required to pay fines as well. The following information will provide insight and guidance about Texas laws regarding auto theft. The laws presented here are the latest version of the Texas Constitutions and Statutes. Lawyer Jackson F. Gorski, an experienced criminal defense attorney in Austin, is successful defending people accused of crimes in Travis County. To contact his office with any questions you may have, call 512-960-4646.
Texas has a high crime rate in terms of auto thefts. While Texas isn’t the most prominent place for carjackings to occur, there are a lot of thefts that take place in some key cities like Austin and around Travis County. According to 2016 statistics taken by the U.S. Department of Justice, nearly 70,000 automobiles were stolen inside of Texas. That is very many vehicles for thieves to steal.
By the way, the National Insurance Crime Bureau statistics Ford and Chevy trucks and Honda Civics and Accords are stolen more than any other type of vehicle within the Long Horn State. Thieves usually take these vehicles with ease and the parts can quickly be sold off.
A General Guide for Auto Theft Punishments
People who are charged with an auto theft can be sentenced and fined accordingly. Remember that vehicle thefts that happen under Texas laws are evaluated according to the value of an item and the nature of the property stolen. In other words, more expensive items will receive stiffer penalties. The same is also true for the type of property that is illegally acquired by an individual. Complex items such as machinery, specialized electronics, systems and rare objects are also given consideration for punishment.
When it comes to car jackings, the law classifies this type of crime as robbery. People convicted of this act can be confined for at least 6 months up to 2 years. The fine for this crime is up to $10,000.
Judges can also sentence auto theft criminals from 2 to 10-years in prison. This usually happens when someone steals vehicles that are worth $30,000 or more. There are penalties for different types of auto theft-related crimes. Let’s examine those particular offenses.
This criminal offense is committed by people who decide to lift cars without the intention of stealing it. Instead, they just want to ride around in the vehicle while having fun in it. Once they are done riding around, they return the vehicle.
The law looks at joyriders the same as common car thieves. If people decide to take vehicles but not with the intent of stealing it, Texas law will still require that individual to be punished like robbers. Does the court system always carry through with this action? The short answer is no. However, judges will have to carefully consider the person’s motives to make sound decisions regarding the case.
Failure to Return Rental Cars
Any person that keeps rental cars without the intent to return it, will be charged with auto theft. This, of course, will depend on the vehicle’s value. This could also result in grand theft auto conviction. Once again, judges will carefully evaluate situations to determine if thieves were actually trying to steal some vehicle; or just keep it for an extended period of time.
By the way, if people are given consent to use commercial vehicles (or private autos) and they do not return the car within the specified amount of time; this situation is called the unauthorized use of motor vehicle. It will not necessarily be labeled as theft. However, judges will have to determine the thief’s real intentions in this situation. They will also have to figure out the right type of penalty for this crime.
Selling or receiving stolen vehicles. Any person that sells or receives (purchases) stolen vehicles; they too are guilty of an auto theft crime. This type of situation can be prosecuted by law.
A Look at Texas Auto Theft Punishments
It was already mentioned that defendants can be incarcerated for committing auto theft within Texas borders. Do not forget that auto theft crimes are typically given the same penalties for robbery crimes. These offenses are arranged accordingly:
- Less than $1,500 – Theft involving less than $1,500 is considered a misdemeanor in most cases, except for those which may involve crimes such as burglary or robbery.
- $1,500 to $20,000 – Auto thefts that fall within this range for these type of charges, are punishable by 180 days up to a few years behind bars. They can also be charged $10,000 in fines.
- $20 to $100k – This is considered third-degree felonious act that carries a penalty of jail time. The amount of time for this incarceration is between 2 to 10. Fines are also included. Fines typically start at $10,000 and can go higher according to the nature of the crime.
- $100k to $200k – Second-degree felonies can be given 2 to 20 behind bars. They can also receives fines. Judges will usually determine the fine.
- $200k or More – First-degree felonies are automatically given between 5 and 99-year sentence Judges will decide if fines are applicable.
By the way, people who are charged and convicted of killing motorists or using weapons when stealing vehicles, then the crime will significantly change. Not only will they be charged with stealing the vehicle; they can also be charged for things such as manslaughter, murder or aggravated robbery in addition.
People who are guilty of this crime will usually have a public record of their crimes. They will have to report to probation officers once they leave jail. In some instances, felons (for this crime) might not be able to legally drive for the rest of their lives. While auto crimes are not the most serious offenses that people can commit; they are very serious matters.
Austin Lawyers and Auto Theft Crimes
Individuals charged with an auto theft crime, they should receive help from lawyers. People who try to represent themselves will probably be unsuccessful in their effort. It is not wise for any person to deal with the court system without representation. People who cannot afford attorney representation, the courts will appoint them one. Constitutional rights provide charged suspects the right to an attorney. These individuals should take advantage of this service. Paid attorneys and public defenders are made available for court service.