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Fort Worth Auto Theft Defense Lawyer

When could I be charged with auto theft?

Auto theft is the act of taking or possessing a vehicle that you do not legally own. While similar to the crime of carjacking, it does not need to be proven that the vehicle was occupied at the time that it was stolen in order to charge you with auto theft.

Under Texas law, you could be charged with auto theft if:

  • You knowingly take a vehicle that you do not own
  • You take a vehicle without completing a transfer of the title
  • You fail to return a car that you have rented
  • You operate a vehicle without the owner's consent

The Penalties for Auto Theft in Texas

The severity of your theft charges will depend on the value of the property involved. For example, stealing a car that is valued at $20,000 or more will result in much harsher penalties than stealing a car valued at $1,000 or less. If the car was occupied at the time that it was stolen, however, you could be charged with carjacking—which is a much more serious felony offense.

If the car was not occupied, the penalties will be as follows:

  • Stealing a vehicle that is valued at $500 or less: If the stolen vehicle is valued at $500 or less, you could face charges for a Class B misdemeanor. If you are convicted, you could be sentenced to jail for 180 days and/or fined up to $2,000.
  • Stealing a vehicle that is valued at $500-$1,500: If the stolen vehicle is valued at $1,500 or less, you could face a Class A misdemeanor. If you are convicted, you could be sentenced to jail for a maximum of one year and/or fined up to $4,000.
  • Stealing a vehicle that is valued at $1,500-$20,000: If the stolen vehicle is valued at $20,000 or less, you could face a state jail felony. If you are convicted, you could be sentenced to jail for a maximum of two years and/or fined up to $10,000.
  • Stealing a vehicle that is valued at $20,000 or more: If the stolen vehicle is valued over $20,000, you could face charges for a third degree felony. If you are convicted, you could be sentenced to prison for up to 10 years and fined up to $10,000.

Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle (Joyriding)

If you intentionally or knowingly operate another person's vehicle without their consent, but intend to return it, you could be charged with a crime known as the unauthorized use of a vehicle. This is also commonly referred to as "joyriding." According to Texas Penal Code § 31.07, this offense is charged as a state jail felony, which is punishable by a minimum of 180 days in jail (maximum two years) and/or a $10,000 fine.

Don't Risk Your Future – Contact My Firm

I am a Fort Worth criminal defense attorney and the founder of the Law Office of A. Oliver Hassibi, and I have more than 10 years of experience providing aggressive legal representation in a wide range of criminal defense cases. My firm has advocated for Texans in a wide variety of circumstances. Regardless of your situation, I am committed to providing you and your case with the care and attention you deserve. At my firm, you are never just another case number—you are a person whose future is at stake.

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