Auto Theft in California: A “Monster” Crime

Monster Energy drinks are known for boosting physical drive and vitality, but they won’t provide enough pep to help crooks avoid charges for auto theft in California. As CBS Los Angeles reported, more than $40,000 in Monster products were stolen when thieves took off in a semi-truck loaded with numerous pallets of the beverage. The case triggers a few different types of charges due to the fact that both merchandise and a vehicle were involved. From the account of the truck’s owner, the robbers likely had another empty vehicle located nearby, where they offloaded the Monster products. Despite leaving the first truck behind, there may still be charges for auto theft under California law.

What are the two types of auto theft in California? There are two types of theft involving motor vehicles, and the charges will depend on the specific circumstances.

1. Grand Theft Auto: In order to prove a case for grand theft auto, a prosecuting attorney must show that:

· You took or drove a vehicle;
· The vehicle belonged to someone else; and,
· You intended to permanently deprive the owner from using or possessing the vehicle.

Taking the vehicle includes situations where you removed it by “hotwiring” it, whether or not you needed to break in in order to do so. However, even taking an unattended car that had the keys in the ignition may be grand theft auto.

2. Theft and Unlawful Taking: This crime is similar to grand theft auto; however, the intent element is different. A prosecutor must still prove that you took a vehicle that didn’t belong to you, but your intent was to either permanently or temporarily deprive the owner of it. A “joyride” might be classified as theft and unlawful taking, and the Monster thieves might be charged under this crime because they left the truck behind.

What are the criminal penalties for auto theft in California?

There are severe penalties if you’re convicted of grand theft auto or theft and unlawful taking, but the sentence will depend upon whether the case is charged as a felony or misdemeanor.

· If charged as a misdemeanor, you may be sentenced up to one year in jail, plus a fine.
· A felony grand theft auto sentence ranges based upon the degree. For a third degree felony, you might get 16 months in prison. A second degree felony is up to two years in jail, while a first degree felony may be a maximum prison sentence of three years.
· There may also be fines assesses as part of your sentence, up to $5,000 depending on the case.

In California, it’s possible to present legal defenses to auto theft in California in order to avoid or reduce the criminal penalties. However, you need an attorney with a strong legal background in criminal law and extensive experience in representing criminal defendants. To protect your rights, please contact a knowledgeable criminal attorney in San Diego who can help you work through criminal proceedings in California and obtain the best possible result.

Ozols Law Firm
8880 Rio San Diego Dr. #22
San Diego, CA, 92108