Stealing a car in Texas is a criminal offense, and if you get into an accident while driving a stolen car, aside from facing criminal charges, you will also face civil charges and will be held liable for all the injuries, property damage, and related losses stemming from the accident.
Depending on the specific circumstances of the case, it’s common for an individual charged with auto theft to also be charged with other crimes, and possible charges and penalties usually intersect. It’s vital to seek guidance from an experienced Denton criminal defense lawyer who can make sure that any charges will be dealt with properly and secure the best possible outcomes for your case.
Texas Auto Theft Laws
In Texas, taking any property that doesn’t belong to you without the consent of the property owner – and with the intention of depriving the owner of the stolen property – is illegal. Put simply, people who steal another person’s property without intending to return it commit theft. For instance, a person fleeing a crime scene that steals a vehicle, uses it to get away, and then leaves the vehicle somewhere has committed theft.
Receiving a stolen car is likewise considered theft. This may occur when the buyer of a vehicle that’s transferred without the proper title is suspected to have known that the vehicle was stolen.
Texas also has a law regarding Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle. If you do not have the effective consent of the owner of the vehicle, you are committing a crime. Often a person borrows a car and does not return it when they are supposed to, this could be a crime. Or if someone lets you borrow a car that they did not have permission to use in the first place, or stole from someone, you have committed UUMV. This can be separate from theft.
Texas law classifies auto thefts based on the stolen vehicle’s value. The higher the value of the stolen vehicle, the harsher the penalties. Prosecutors usually rely on the stolen vehicle’s replacement value or fair market value. Penalties for auto theft in Texas include:
- Stealing a vehicle with a value of $2,500 and below is a misdemeanor.
- Stealing a vehicle with a value of $2,500 up to $30,000, or using a car without the owners’s permission is a state jail felony. This is punishable by jail time of 180 days up to two years and a fine of not more than $10,000.
- Stealing a vehicle worth $30,000 up to $150,000 is a third-degree felony. This is punishable by imprisonment of two up to 10 years and a fine of not more than $10,000.
Consult with a Seasoned Denton Criminal Defense Lawyer Now
Keep in mind that just because you have been arrested and accused of stealing a car or got caught driving a stolen car does not mean that you will automatically be convicted of theft. A seasoned Denton criminal defense lawyer can raise various defenses that might result in the reduction or dismissal of your charges and prevent you from receiving a felony conviction, serving jail time, and other related penalties.
If you got into an accident while driving a stolen car, get in touch with the Law Office of Brent D. Bowen, PLLC, for legal guidance. Our Denton Criminal Defense Lawyer can review the facts of your case and figure out the best legal options specific to your situation. To arrange your free case evaluation with our Denton criminal defense lawyer, you can call 940-222-2488 or fill out our online form.