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Grand theft auto is a serious property crime, one that is punished harshly under Florida’s criminal justice system. If you or your loved one has been arrested for or charged with grand theft auto in Miami-Dade County or any of the surrounding areas, it is important that you speak to a skilled and experienced attorney as soon as possible. At Hubbs Law Firm, we defend individuals accused of all types of state crimes, including grand theft auto. We can help you understand your options and work to protect your future.
Understanding the Legal Definition of “Grand Theft Auto”
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), in 2018 there were approximately 660,346 motor vehicle thefts in the United States. In 2018, Florida had approximately 41,119 motor vehicle thefts alone making it one of the leading states for this crime statistic.
Nowadays, when people think of grand theft, they think of the video game—Grand Theft Auto—instead of the actual felony theft statute that could cost a person years of their life in prison. Moreover, when people think of the term motor vehicle, they think of only cars. Florida Statute § 316.003(40) defines "motor vehicle" as a "self-propelled vehicle, not operated upon rails or guide ways, but not including any bicycle, motorized scooter, electronic personal assistive, mobility device, swamp buggy, or moped."
Given the definition, it is important to remember that not only cars but also boats and motorcycles count among the definition of "motor vehicle."
Elements of Grand Theft Auto
Motor vehicle theft, otherwise known as grand theft, is charged as a third-degree felony under the Florida Theft Statute § 812.014.
In order for the State to find a defendant guilty of grand theft of an automobile, the prosecution must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, the following:
- The defendant knowingly and unlawfully used or obtained or tried to use or obtain the victim's motor vehicle; and
- The defendant did so with the intent to permanently or temporarily do one of the following:
- Deprive the victim of his or her right to the motor vehicle, or
- Appropriate the motor vehicle to his or hers own use or to a person's use who was not entitled to it.
Grand theft of a motor vehicle is charged as a third-degree felony under Florida law, punishable by up to five years in prison and up to $5,000 fines.
Carjacking under § 812.155
In Miami, carjacking is defined as taking a motor vehicle through the use of force, violence, fear, or assault, with the intent to permanently or temporarily deprive the owner of the vehicle.
Under §812.155(2) a defendant may be subject to harsher penalties if he or she carried a firearm or deadly weapon in the course of committing the carjacking.
Carjacking in Florida is a first-degree felony, regardless of whether the defendant carried a weapon or not. When a firearm or weapon is used in committing a carjacking, then the punishment is a term of years not to exceed life in prison. When no weapon is used, then the punishment is a first-degree felony punishable by up to 30 years in prison.
Failure to Return a Leased Motor Vehicle
Florida law states that whoever after leasing property under an agreement to return it to the person or entity letting the personal property, at the termination of agreed upon lease and without the consent of the persons, knowingly abandons or refuses to return the personal property as agreed commits a third-degree felony.
Section § 812.155(2) states that the property that the defendant failed to return must exceed $300 in value to be a third-degree felony, however, leased motor vehicles generally fall into this category.
Third-degree felonies are punishable by up to five years in prison and up to $5,000 fines.
Let Our Firm Fight for Your Rights
If you or someone you know has been charged with stealing a motor vehicle, it is important to remember that you or your loved one still has rights. It is important that you call an experienced state criminal defense attorney for more information about how to build a defense to grand theft charges.
At Hubbs Law Firm, we represent clients in Miami-Dade County in cities like Coral Gables, Pinecrest, Dadeland, Kendall, The Crossings, Palmetto Bay and South Miami. Our founding attorney is Board Certified in Criminal Trial Law by the Florida Bar and both our attorneys are former prosecutors, meaning they have the trial experience to aggressively advocate for you every step of the way.
Call (305) 570-4802 now to schedule an appointment to speak with an attorney at Hubbs Law Firm. Your initial consultation is always free.
- FBI Statistics on Motor Vehicle Theft- Visit the Federal Bureau of Investigations to see the most recent national statistics of crimes including motor vehicle theft.
- Florida Statistics on Motor Vehicle Theft - Visit the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to see the most recent Florida statistics of crimes including motor vehicle theft.
- Fla. Stat. § 812.014 – Visit Online Sunshine, the official website of the Florida Legislature, for more information about grand theft charges including information about shoplifting, scheme to defraud, and other theft charges under § 812.014.
Attorneys E.J. & Erika Hubbs
As professional Miami criminal defense attorneys, we take every case personally give every client the deliberate care it deserves. Our clients become part of our family and we fight relentlessly for their rights. Read more about us to find out how we can help you.
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