Vehicle Theft Laws In Texas

Law enforcement officers recently arrested three men during an investigation about two stolen motorcycles. One of the men was charged with possession of a controlled substance. A second man was charged with theft of a firearm. The third man was charged with unauthorized use of a vehicle as well as evading arrest. The arrest occurred after a law enforcement officer spotted a motorcycle on Interstate 35 with a truck following the bike. Law enforcement proceeded pull over the motorcyclist because the plates on the bicycle were bent. After law enforcement approached the motorcyclist, the rider proceeded to flee the scene. Law enforcement officers later found the motorcycle at another location, which led to the discovery of the stolen motorcycles. After searching one of the vehicles, law enforcement discovered a bag of unused syringes in a storage compartment as well as 3.5 grams of methamphetamine located inside a can of Arizona Iced Tea. A gram of black tar heroin was also discovered.

How Auto Theft Laws in Texas are Established

Successfully establishing that unauthorized theft of a vehicle occurred requires establishing that an individual committed the offense of intentionally or knowingly operating another individual’s vehicle without the owner’s consent. This law does not require the intent to deprive the owner of his or her property, which means that joy riding is also classified as a state jail felony.

The Penalties for Texas Auto Theft

Penal Code Section 31.07 governs auto theft or unauthorized use of a vehicle, which is classified as a state jail felony and punishable by a maximum of two years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Additionally, law enforcement sometimes charges auto theft under its general theft laws. This second classification, however, is frequently reserved for cases in which a vehicle is worth more than $30,000, which is classified as a third degree felony and will result in up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Defenses to Auto Theft Charges

One of the reasons why individuals who are charged with this theft should not hesitate to obtain the assistance of a skilled attorney is that are several strong defenses that can be raised. First, in cases of unauthorized use of a vehicle, a person can sometimes create a defense based on the argument that the vehicle’s owner gave consent to use the vehicle. Second, if an offense is charged as a theft, a person can argue that he or she did not have the intent to deprive a person of ownership of the vehicle.

Contact a Skilled Criminal Defense Lawyer

Being charged with theft of a motorcycle or any other vehicle can result in serious consequences including employment obstacles as well as other hurdles that can arise throughout a person’s life. As a result, if you or a loved one lives in the Denton area and is charged with a crime, it is a wise idea to obtain the assistance of a skilled attorney. By obtaining the assistance of our legal counsel, you can make sure that your case resolves in the best possible manner. Contact Wheeler Law Office today to schedule an initial free consultation.

(image courtesy of Andrew Peloso)