Grand theft auto is more than a video game in Florida. It is a serious crime that could, depending on the value of the "auto" in question, land you in prison for up to thirty years. If you’ve been accused, take the time now to find out all you can about this crime from our experienced Fort Lauderdale car theft lawyer.
It may sound trite, but knowledge really is power. What exactly is grand theft auto in Florida? What can happen to you if you’re convicted? What should you do if you’ve been arrested? The answers to these questions could mean the difference between a conviction and an acquittal.
Defining Grand Theft Auto in Florida
Grand theft auto is a somewhat misleading phrase under Florida law. It implies that you can commit ordinary theft of a vehicle. In fact, unless the car is worth less than $300, all car thefts are considered “Grand Theft Auto.” Furthermore, with a few exceptions like scooters and swamp buggies, any motorized vehicle qualifies as an “auto.” That includes boats, for instance, and motorcycles.
Under the theft statute, 812.014, you can be charged with Grand Theft Auto in Florida if you meet two specific conditions:
- First, you must knowingly have obtained or used—or tried to obtain or use—another person’s motor vehicle.
- Second, you must have obtained or used the person’s vehicle with the intent to deprive them of that vehicle, or you must have appropriated the vehicle to your own use.
Finally, you should know that under Florida law, carjacking is a separate and far more serious offense than grand theft auto. Of course, carjacking involves taking someone’s vehicle, but it also includes using force, violence, or threats to do so. According to our Fort Lauderdale car theft lawyer, carjacking in Florida is a first-degree felony, punishable by up to thirty years in prison or life if you’re in possession of a deadly weapon when you commit the crime.
Penalties for Grand Theft Auto
The penalties for grand theft auto in Florida are set up on a sliding scale based on the value of the vehicle itself.
- If the car is valued at under $20,000, the theft is treated as a third-degree felony. The maximum penalties are five years in prison, five years of probation, and/or a $5,000 fine.
- If the car is valued at between $20,000 and $100,000, the theft is treated as a second-degree felony. The maximum penalties are fifteen years in prison, fifteen years probation, and/or $10,000 in fines.
- Finally, if the car is worth more than $100,000, the theft is treated as a first-degree felony. According to our Fort Lauderdale car theft lawyer, you face a maximum sentence of thirty years in prison, thirty years of probation, and/or $10,000 in fines. In addition, the minimum penalty in first-degree cases is 21 months in prison.
What Should You Do If You’re Arrested for GTA?
First things first: if you’ve been arrested for grand theft auto in Florida, take a deep breath. You can deal with this situation. You need to remember a few basics, though.
- Remain calm. The situation is stressful; there’s no avoiding that. Bad things happen, though, when you allow stress to overwhelm you.
- Cooperate and be polite. Resisting arrest can garner additional charges, charges you might have to deal with even if you are acquitted of the original theft charges. Even if you know you are in the right, refusing to cooperate can turn a bad situation into a potentially dangerous one.
- Take advantage of your right to remain silent. Don’t talk to anyone without your criminal attorney. This includes law enforcement; it also includes other inmates. Anything you say to anyone other than your lawyer can potentially be used against you.
- Call an attorney. Finally, and most importantly, if you’ve been arrested, you should call a qualified and experienced Fort Lauderdale car theft lawyer, one experienced at dealing with grand theft auto cases. Too much is at stake to risk trying to handle this situation on your own. You are entitled to legal representation. Take advantage of that right.
Contact Our Experienced Fort Lauderdale Car Theft Lawyer Now!
For more information about grand theft auto in Florida, or to speak with our Fort Lauderdale car theft lawyer for a free consultation, contact our criminal defense law firm online or give us a call at 954-861-0384.