When Is Texas Vehicle Theft a Federal Crime?
The state of Texas takes auto theft very seriously; in fact, many cities, including Dallas, have their own auto theft police units. Consequences for stealing a car can range from misdemeanor charges, such as for a juvenile who takes a parent’s car on a joyride without permission, to felony charges at the federal level for grand theft auto. Grand theft auto, which occurs when a vehicle is stolen and moved to a new location with the intent to sell or otherwise deprive the owner permanently, carries serious consequences, including potential federal charges. If you have been charged with auto theft or carjacking, your future employment, reputation, and freedom could be at serious risk.
Texas State Auto Theft Charges
Texas has a unique class of criminal charges called “state jail felonies,” which are labeled as a felony but which punish a crime with jail time, rather than prison time. People charged with stealing a car in Texas are usually charged with unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, which is a state jail felony; consequences include a minimum of six months to two years in jail, and fines up to 10,000 dollars.
However, if a car is worth more than $30,000, the charges can be bumped up to a third-degree felony, which allows between two and ten years in prison and fines up to $10,000. Additional actions, such as car theft performed by a public servant, against an elderly individual, or in conjunction with violent activities like carjacking, the consequences can be increased.
Federal Auto Theft Charges
Usually, the federal government will only get involved in auto theft if there are other crimes involved, such as drug sales or larger car theft rackets. However, car theft involving force, violence, or intimidation may be prosecuted federally. Interestingly, while the federal carjacking statute also allows stolen cars involved in “interstate commerce” to be prosecuted as federal car theft, the stolen car does not have to be driven across state lines; the fact that the car was made in another state or crossed state lines at some time in the past is sufficient. This loophole can make it easier for car theft to be prosecuted as a federal crime.
Unfortunately, sometimes people who are innocent of other crimes will get prosecuted for vehicle theft at the federal level because they are suspected of working for drug cartels or auto theft rings. A tough-minded criminal defense lawyer is essential for building a strong defense against charges of federal car theft.
Call an Aggressive Plano Criminal Defense Lawyer
A conviction for charges of federal car theft can impact your life forever. If you have been accused of this serious crime, take proper precautions immediately to protect your reputation, career, and your relationships - call an experienced Plano criminal defense lawyer with The Crowder Law Firm, P.C. today. We will build an aggressive defense that attacks the prosecution’s case from every angle. Call us at 214-303-9600 now and schedule a free and confidential consultation.