Joyriding to Grand Theft Auto – What Your Teen Should Be Aware Of

April 18, 2022 Criminal Defense, Juvenile Offenses, Theft/Property Crimes

When we think of teenagers, one thing that often comes to mind is that they tend to make mistakes. It makes sense—their brains aren’t fully developed yet, their bodies and minds are still developing, and the social stigma of looking “cool” to friends can often lead to some bad decisions.

Young adults lack impulse control due to the fact that the decision center of their brain—referred to as the frontal cortex—have not yet reached full development. In addition, children or teens who have committed a crime may be acting out for attention. While it doesn’t excuse any crimes, these reasons can be used as a defense in a criminal case. You can read all about the adolescent brain and expert witnesses here.

The reality is that getting caught taking a “joyride” or stealing another person’s car is an extremely serious offense in the state of Florida. For both teens and parents, it’s important to get a full understanding of grand theft auto and its consequences, so you know how to protect and find a defense for your teen who has gotten themselves into trouble.

Grand Theft Auto

Florida Statute Section 812.014 defines theft as when a person knowingly obtains or uses, or attempts to obtain or use the property of another person with the intent to temporarily or permanently keep the property. This can either be to deprive the person of the right to their property, or benefit financially from their property. It can also refer to when a person appropriates the property for his or her own use or to the use of any person not entitled to it.

Florida Statute Section 320.01 defines motor vehicles as an automobile, motorcycle, truck, trailer, semitrailer, truck tractor and semitrailer combination, or any other vehicle operated on the roads of its state.

Burglary of Conveyance

Joyriding can fall under the crime of burglary of a conveyance, or when a person intentionally—but temporarily—takes off with another person’s motorized vehicle without the owner’s permission. Florida Statute 810.02, the crime of burglary of conveyance is when a person enters a conveyance without permission. A conveyance refers to any motorized vehicle, including a car, boat, ship, aircraft, trailer, or any other vessel.

Joyriding can appear to be a cool trend, especially among young teens. However, if you were to get arrested for joyriding in someone else’s vehicle without their permission, you could get yourself into a lot of trouble. In fact, Florida law combines the offenses of joyriding and grand theft, so whether you took someone’s car only for a quick ride or with the intent to steal it for good, you can be charged with felony grand theft.

Penalties for Stealing Someone’s Vehicle

The consequences for taking another person’s vehicle without their permission is extremely serious. The degree of the felony will depend on the specific circumstances of your case, along with the value of the vehicle that was taken. The following is a list of penalties for stealing another person’s vehicle:

  • Grand Theft Felony in the Third Degree – Theft of a vehicle automatically is a third-degree felony regardless of the vehicle’s value. The penalty for a third-degree felony is a fine up to $5,000 and up to five years in prison.
  • Grand Theft Felony in the Second Degree – If the vehicle is worth more than $20,000 but less than $100,000, the penalty is a fine up to $10,000 and up to 15 years in prison.
  • Grand Theft Felony in the First Degree – If the vehicle is worth more than $100,000, the penalty is a fine up to $10,000 and up to 30 years in prison.

While it’s true that a minor might not face as severe consequences for a criminal charge, especially if it is the first offense, that does not mean that it will not affect your child’s future. There are still a lot of problems a minor can face after getting charged with an auto theft crime. It is also important to note that with serious charges, specifically with repeat offenders, the state may recommend that the juvenile be “direct filed” as an adult in court. You can read more about juvenile law on our page here.

Even if the car is returned without any damages, there is the case that other belongings from inside the car have been stolen. Or if the minor crashed the car while driving, there could be additional charges if there were any damages, injuries, or deaths to other citizens.

It is imperative that you and your child take an auto theft charge very seriously. It could impact the minor’s chance of getting into college, applying for their dream job, or obtaining a license in the future. Make sure you are prepared with an experienced Tallahassee defense attorney.

To read more about grand theft auto and its potential defenses, find our blog post here.

Finding a Defense Attorney in Tallahassee, Florida

Getting accused of a crime as a minor can be an extremely difficult situation. Teenagers often make silly mistakes without thinking of the real consequences. There is a huge importance to finding the right criminal defense representative for juveniles in a criminal case, which you can read all about in our blog here.

Whether you are a minor who has been accused of stealing a vehicle, or you are the parent of a child who has gotten in trouble with the law for joyriding or stealing a vehicle, it is of the utmost importance that you seek out a skilled juvenile defense attorney in Tallahassee. Aside from expensive fines and potential jail time, one mistake could change the course of your entire future. Don’t throw away your dreams from one mistake. Don Pumphrey and his legal team at Pumphrey Law Firm have experience representing minors in various criminal cases. They understand the importance of finding the best defense and ensuring your future is secure. Call (850) 681-7777 or leave an online message today for a free consultation.

Written by Karissa Key

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