Grand theft auto, also referred to as “GTA,” vehicle theft and / or just auto theft, is the unauthorized taking of another’s car with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of the car. It may be by force, trick or false pretenses. Sometimes, the suspect takes the car to a “chop shop” to have the car disassembled for money or the suspect intentionally fails to return a rental car.
Grand Theft is a “wobbler.” This means that the charge can be filed as a misdemeanor or as a felony, depending upon the circumstances, the value of the car and the defendant’s prior criminal record. Most commonly, it is filed as a felony as a violation of Penal Code § 487(d)(1), however it sometimes is filed as a violation of Vehicle Code § 18851 (unlawful taking of a vehicle, including Joyriding).
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