Theft laws are meant to deter people from trying to take things that don’t belong to them. For some offenses, such as those involving low value items, the penalties might not seem very serious. Once you start looking into the higher value items, such as vehicles, you are looking at much more serious penalties.
One important thing to know is that you don’t have to break into a car to face a grand theft auto charge. Instead, one can come if you take a person’s car without permission and in any manner. Even if the door is open, the key is in the ignition, and it is already started, you can face criminal charges if you get into it and drive away.
Another point to remember is that your relation to the car’s owner doesn’t matter. You can face a charge for taking a family member’s car if you moved it and didn’t have permission. The lack of permission is the key to this charge.
These cases can sometimes be challenging because many times, the permission to take the vehicle is granted verbally. In some cases, this might become a point of contention because verbal permission can come down to your word against the other person’s.
If you are facing a charge for motor vehicle theft, you are looking at a fine of up to $5,000 and up to five years in prison. You may also have to pay for the cost of restoring damage to the vehicle or covering the full value of it if it can’t be repaired. With these serious penalties looming, you can understand why it is imperative that you work on your defense.