Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle and Auto Theft Lawyer in Austin, Texas
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Auto theft in Texas is generally charged in a very generic way. In Texas, auto theft is typically governed under Penal Code Section 31.07. Auto theft in Texas is generally charged as Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle, which is a State Jail Felony, punishable by 6 months to 2 years in the State Jail, day for day, and a fine not to exceed $10,000. Prosecutors sometimes charge auto theft under the general theft statute. Most prosecutors only do this if the value of the automobile is greater than $30,000, thereby making the theft offense chargeable as a third degree felony, punishable by 2 to 10 years in the Texas Department of Corrections of a fine not to exceed $10,000.
Proving the offense of unauthorized use of a vehicle is rather easy. A person commits an offense if he intentionally or knowingly operates another's boat, airplane, or motor-propelled vehicle without the effective consent of the owner. Unlike the general theft statute, it does not require the intent to deprive the owner of property. This makes the offense of joy riding a state jail felony. Simply taking a car without the owner’s consent is unauthorized use of a motor vehicle. This is why prosecutors usually charge auto theft as unauthorized use of a motor vehicle. This keeps the prosecutor from having to mess with the whole intent issue at trial.
The two main defenses to auto theft are:
1. Consent if it is charged as unauthorized use of a motor vehicle or theft. Basically, you argue that you thought the owner gave you consent to use the vehicle.
2. Lack of intent if it is charged as a theft. Basically, you argue that you did not have the intent to deprive the owner of the vehicle.
A criminal conviction for auto theft or unauthorized use of a motor vehicle can have very serious consequences. A theft charge is a crime of moral turpitude. This means most employers will not hire you if they see that you have a final conviction for this type of crime. Moreover, most auto theft offenses, specifically, unauthorized use of a vehicle, are charged as felonies. A felony conviction can result in jail or prison, lengthy community supervision, and a criminal record. This can have a dramatic effect on your future.
If you have any questions about your charge of auto theft or unauthorized use of a vehicle, call Austin Criminal Defense Attorney and Austin Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle Attorney Jason Trumpler, anytime, at 512-457-5200. Attorney Jason Trumpler has a long history of getting his client's excellent results when they were facing similar charges.