Recently, a suspect under suspicion of stealing a car was arrested after returning to the scene of the crime with the vehicle. According to reports, deputies responded to a call about an assault with a deadly weapon in Canyon Country. Upon investigating, deputies did not uncover any evidence that an assault with a deadly weapon occurred. The victim stated that the suspect tried to run them over with the vehicle in the process of stealing it.
Shortly after deputies left the scene of the crime, the suspect returned with the vehicle. Deputies then went back and arrested him on suspicion of taking a vehicle without the owner’s consent.
When it’s believed someone has stolen a vehicle, it usually involves one of two charges: grand theft auto or joyriding. Grand theft auto is covered under California Penal Code 487d1 PC and makes it illegal to take someone’s vehicle valued at $950 or more, without their permission, with the intention of depriving the true owner of using it.
The crime is a “wobbler” under California law that can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. Most often it is charged as a felony. The potential penalties include 16 months to 3 years in jail, a fine of up to $10,000, or both.
Joyriding is covered under California Vehicle Code 10851 VC and is described as taking someone else’s vehicle without consent. Like GTA, it’s a “wobbler” that can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. Generally, joyriding is the less severe crime of the two and is frequently charged as a misdemeanor for first-time offenders. The misdemeanor penalties include up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $5000. Felony penalties include 16 months to 3 years in state prison.
The penalties increase if a person has prior convictions of either joyriding or GTA, or if the vehicle was a police car, ambulance, or fire department vehicle on a service call.