Grand Theft Auto and Carjacking

In Florida, any auto theft will be charged as a grand theft felony, no matter what the value of the vehicle is. The penalties are increased for carjacking and in other circumstances, such as if the incident took place during a state of emergency.

Gainesville Grand Theft Auto Lawyer

Being charged with grand theft of an automobile or carjacking in Florida can be a tough, overwhelming experience. The qualified grand theft auto and carjacking defense lawyers of the Galigani Law Firm in Gainesville have approximately 50 years of combined legal experience and know what it takes to expose any weak links in the prosecution’s case to help your situation.

If you have been arrested and charged with grand theft of an automobile or carjacking in Alachua County, Levy County, Gilchrist County, Columbia County, Baker County, Bradford County, Marion County, or Union County, put the many years of experience and criminal defense specialization of the Galigani Law Firm on your case. Your first consultation concerning your Gainesville grand theft auto or carjacking case with Galigani Law Firm is free, so call (352) 375-0812 to schedule your appointment today.

Info on Auto Theft Crimes

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Grand Theft Auto in Alachua County Defined

In Florida, all auto thefts are considered “grand theft” under Fla. Stat. § 812.014, which includes anyone who knowingly obtains or uses, or attempts to obtain or to use, a motor vehicle belonging to another person, with intent to permanently or temporarily deprive that person of ownership rights or other benefits; or who wrongfully uses or grants use to another person of motor vehicles which you are not allowed by the owner to drive or use.

If you take a car “joyriding” without permission, this is considered grand theft of an automobile, since you have temporarily used a motor vehicle which you are not entitled to use. You could be charged with grand theft even if you return the vehicle in perfect condition before the owner notices it is missing. It is also grand theft if you obtain use of the vehicle by lies, fraud, or trickery.

For purposes of the grand theft law in Florida, “motor vehicle” includes not only cars and trucks but also detached semi-trailers and motorcycles. However, it does not include mopeds or non-motorized transport such as bicycles.

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Penalties for Grand Theft Auto in Florida

Typically, grand theft of an auto in Florida is charged as a third-degree felony under Fla. Stat. § 812.014(2)(c)7. If convicted of grand theft of an auto as a third degree felony, the sentence may be up to:

  • Five years of prison; and
  • $5,000 fine

If the grand theft auto happens during a state of emergency that has been declared by the Governor, which often happens when a hurricane hits, and the grand theft auto is facilitated by conditions arising from the hurricane or other emergency, you can face second-degree felony charges, which carry more severe penalties.

Some examples of “conditions arising from the emergency” that can lead to second-degree felony charges are:

  • Power outages;
  • Curfews;
  • Evacuations, including voluntary as well as mandatory evacuations;
  • Any reduction in the response time or presence of police or other first responders such as homeland security officers ; and
  • Civil unrest, such as rioting or mass looting.

For example, if you steal a truck from the driveway of a house that has been evacuated during a hurricane, this will probably result in second-degree felony charge of grand theft. If convicted of grand theft of an auto as a second degree felony, the sentence may be up to:

  • 15 years of prison; and
  • $10,000 fine.

Grand theft of an auto can be charged as an even more serious first-degree felony for auto theft. You will be charged with first-degree felony grand theft if the police report that:

  • The auto involved is valued at $100,000 or higher;
  • During the incident, damage of $1,000 or more was done to the auto or any other property;
  • A semitrailer belonging to a law enforcement agency was stolen;
  • The stolen auto was cargo valued at $50,000 or more that had entered the stream of commerce from a shipper’s loading platform to a receiving dock; and
  • Any auto, either the stolen one or one belonging to you, was used to commit the offense in a manner other than merely as a getaway vehicle, and this damaged the real estate of another person.

As an example, if the police claim that you loaded a motorcycle belonging to another person into your truck and drove off, and you tore up the yard and knocked over a fence while doing this, it is possible that you could be charged with first-degree felony grand theft of an auto. If convicted of grand theft of an auto as a first degree felony, the sentence may be up to:

  • 30 years of prison; and
  • $10,000 fine.

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Definition and Penalties of Carjacking in Florida

If during any auto theft there is a use of force, violence, assault, or putting in fear, including during flight from the offense, this is defined as carjacking by Fla. Stat. § 812.133. In Florida, any carjacking is a first-degree felony. If convicted of carjacking, you face:

  • Up to 30 years in prison;
  • Up to $10,000 in fines.

A carjacking conviction can even lead to life in prison if a court finds that you carried a gun or any other deadly weapon during the carjacking, even if you did not actually fire the gun or even aim it at a person.

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Galigani Law Firm | Grand Theft Auto or Carjacking Attorney in Alachua County, Florida

If you have been accused of grand theft auto or charged with carjacking in Gainesville or the surrounding areas, including Alachua County, Ocala in Marion County, and Lake City in Columbia County, contact the experienced grand theft auto and carjacking defense lawyers of the Galigani Law Firm. They will do whatever it takes to fight for a favorable outcome in your Gainesville grand theft auto or carjacking case. To schedule your free initial grand theft auto or carjacking case consultation with the Galigani Law Firm, call (352) 375-0812 today.