Grand Theft Auto in Arizona
In Arizona, grand theft auto is commonly referred to as theft of means of transportation and is a felony offense with severe penalties, including potential imprisonment and monetary fines. Means of transportation may include any vehicle used on the highway, waterway, or airway, including cars, motorcycles, trucks, and boats.
The law considers a person to have committed the crime if they knowingly and without lawful authority take someone else’s ‘means of transportation’ intending to deprive them of the vehicle permanently. It can also be grand theft auto if a person fails to return a borrowed vehicle within the agreed-upon time or fail to reasonably notify the true owner of the loss of the vehicle.
Arizona law also considers grand auto theft when a person presents false or fraudulently acquired documents to claim a vehicle’s ownership. The law may also charge you with grand theft auto for knowingly driving a stolen car. Grand auto theft in Arizona is a serious offense, and so much is at stake when facing related charges. However, a skilled Mesa grand theft auto lawyer can help you.
Grand Theft Auto Penalties
Arizona sentences grand theft auto based on an offender’s criminal record and the specific circumstances of the crime. Here are some common grand theft auto categories and related penalties:
- Theft of a vehicle – the outright theft of someone’s means of transportation is a class 3 felony. It carries a sentence of three and a half (3.5) years for a first-time offender and up to 25 years for a repeat offender.
- Joyriding – the unlawful use of someone else’s vehicle is a class 5 felony for the driver or the person who took the vehicle and a class 6 felony for any passenger who knowingly participates in the criminal act. A class 5 felony carries a prison sentence of one and a half (1.5) years but can go up to seven and a half (7) years for repeat offenders. A class 6 felony carries a sentence of one year for first-time offenses and a maximum of five years and nine months for repeat offenses.
- Theft of a vehicle’s engine – Arizona classifies the theft of a vehicle engine or transmission as a class 4 felony. It carries a prison sentence of two and a half (2.5) years for a first-time offense and a up to 15 years for repeat offenses.
- Other offenses – A person may also be guilty of other grand theft auto-related offenses, including failure to return a vehicle within 72 hours of the agreed-upon time without a good reason. This is a class 5 felony with similar sentences as joyriding.
Common Defenses to Grand Theft Auto in Arizona
Some of the common defenses that a skilled attorney can use to defend you in court include;
- i) You had consent to use the vehicle – in some cases, a person can maliciously invalidate their permission to use a vehicle and accuse you of theft. A lawyer will help you gather the necessary evidence to show that the owner had already permitted you to drive the vehicle.
- ii) Mistake of fact – the defense is applicable where a person sells or loans you a vehicle while misrepresenting themselves as the actual owner. A skilled lawyer will help prove that you had no prior knowledge of the vehicle theft and did not intend to deprive the actual owner of the vehicle permanently.
Contact a Grand Theft Auto Attorney in Arizona
You risk severe penalties and a permanent criminal record upon conviction for a grand theft auto in Arizona. Accordingly, it is advisable to seek the help of a criminal defense attorney. If you or a loved one are facing grand theft auto charges in Mesa, AZ, contact our skilled and experienced grand theft auto lawyers at Dodge & Vega P.L.C. We have broad experience successfully defending similar cases using a range of defenses. We are committed to defending your rights and getting a favorable outcome for your case. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about our services.