Hampton Roads Auto Theft Penalties

Hampton Roads auto theft penalties can be harsh. If the vehicle is worth more than $500, it is punishable by up to 20 years in prison. That does not necessarily mean a person will get 20 years. That is just what the code says a person could get. Also, a person could get fined up to $2,500. If the vehicle is worth more than $500, it is considered a felony. Even if a vehicle is not running, the scrap metal is probably worth more than $500. Generally, any larceny charge for a vehicle is going to result in a felony. If you are experiencing a situation that may result in auto theft penalties, contact a trusted attorney immediately.

Consequences for a Second-Time Offender

When a person has been convicted of an auto theft or even a prior larceny and convicted of a second one, it adds penalties to a person’s guidelines. The sentencing guidelines are used by judges to determine a sentence and there is something for past charges. Those charges can add extra points onto that person’s guidelines as each point is worth roughly a month when it goes to the judge. However, if a person is going in front of a jury, what they are going to hear is that this person committed this crime before and they are not going to give any specific guideline for a sentence. The person will get one to 20 years in prison because the jury will assume that the crime is a habit for that person. For that reason, a second-time offense can accrue higher Hampton Roads auto theft penalties.

Strategies of Auto Theft Lawyers

Lawyers want to see what the evidence is against the individual to determine if they can prove the person was the one who took the car. Can they prove the individual did not have permission to take the car? Can they prove the person was never going to return the car? Can they prove that car was worth $500? Those are the general things lawyers look at because those are the elements the Commonwealth has to prove. They want to see how they can prove that and which parts of that case are their weakest.

Prosecutor’s Proof for Conviction

They need to prove that a person took an item belonging to somebody else, that they did not have permission, and that they had the intention to permanently deprive, meaning they never planned on giving it back. If they are alleging that it was an automobile, they have to show that the item taken was an automobile. And, if they are charging the person with a felony, they have to show that the automobile was worth more than $500. They do not have to show that the auto was operable; they just have to show that it was a vehicle.

Probation or Reduced Sentencing Options

Auto theft is a larceny charge. Assuming a person is charged with a felony, it is possible that it can be reduced down to a misdemeanor larceny. Depending on the jurisdiction and depending on how exactly an individual took the vehicle, there may be some restitution where the Commonwealth may agree to reduce or dismiss the charges if the other party is made whole. There are options to mitigate Hampton Roads auto theft penalties.

Auto Theft vs. Other Theft-Related Offenses

In the Virginia code, there is not much of a difference between auto theft and theft-related offenses because it is all punished under grand larceny. However, if they are specifically alleging that there is an automobile, for example, a stolen automobile, then it has to be proven that an automobile was taken.

One thing that an attorney can argue, which cannot necessarily be argued in every theft-related case because a lot of times there is no dispute about whether or not there was intent to permanently deprive, is that they were just borrowing the car and was going to bring it back. In that case, it would not be grand larceny. It would be unauthorized use, which is still a criminal charge but it is a different charge. That is something that can be argued in a Hampton Roads auto theft defense to reduce penalties.