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Virginia Auto Theft Penalties

Auto theft refers to the theft of a vehicle belonging to someone else, with the intention of permanently depriving that person of that vehicle and, any time the vehicle is worth $200 or more, it constitutes a felony offense. If you have been charged with auto theft, there are many consequences that you might face.

The possible Virginia auto theft penalties are time in prison and other collateral consequences associated with felonies.  If you are convicted of felony auto theft you could lose your right to vote, it could be more difficult for you to find jobs or receive government assistance, and you could lose your right to carry a gun. Speak with an accomplished auto theft lawyer that could protect your rights and advocate for you.

Elements the Prosecution Must Prove

The prosecution is going to need to prove the elements of taking a motor vehicle from another person without their consent with the intent to permanently deprive them of the property. Those are each of the elements.

Consequences of Second-Offense Auto Theft

For a second-time auto theft offense, if the person was convicted the first time of a felony, the person will face heavier Virginia auto theft penalties if convicted again. Virginia uses the sentencing guidelines, which means the person’s past convictions are taken into consideration and the judge must take them into consideration when determining the sentence. Having felony convictions for the same offense is going to make the outcome worse.

Auto Theft Defenses Strategies

Auto theft lawyers may use many different strategies in order to fight for a positive outcome for an individual, depending on the facts of the person’s case. Almost always, defense attorneys are going to be fighting the different elements of auto theft. In an auto theft case, a defense lawyer might try to dispute whether someone took the motor vehicle from another person without consent with the intent to permanently deprive them of the property.

Attorneys may also try to argue about the value of the vehicle, for instance, and whether it was worth $200 or more or not. Chances are the answer is going to be yes, but it is going to be something that an attorney can try to fight. In doing so, a lawyer could work diligently to mitigate the Virginia auto theft penalties that a person may face.

Questions an Attorney May Ask When Building a Defense

There are many things that a lawyer could dispute and can bring up as part of a robust defense, but the individual steps that they take are going to depend on the facts of the case. Some of these questions include:

  • Was it actually the person that did it?
  • What evidence is against the person?
  • Does the person have an alibi defense?
  • Are the witnesses credible or do the witnesses have the propensity to lie?
  • Have they lied before?
  • What are their criminal records like?
  • Have they been convicted of felonies?

Possible Probation or Reduced Sentencing for Auto Theft Charges

If the auto theft charge is a felony, there is always the idea that a person could get some potential probation. Whether or not the person can get probation, only probation and only a suspended sentence is going to depend almost entirely on the person’s record and the facts of the case. Because it is such a serious offense, it is rare that the judge will give the person straight probation and not have some type of suspended sentence hanging over the person’s head.

For an automobile theft charge in Virginia, because it is punished as grand larceny, it does not have a mandatory minimum amount of time that the person has to be given by the judge, but they could get up to 20 years. It is going to depend on the specific facts of the case, the person’s criminal record, and any negotiations that they work out with the prosecutor.

How a Virginia Auto Theft Attorney Can Help

A local auto theft lawyer’s initial steps will be to consult with you, in order to find out what the possible defenses might be. From there, they could look through the evidence that might be used against you, and figure out from there what steps need to be taken immediately to preserve evidence where evidence might be destroyed.

The steps your lawyer may take all depend on the facts of your case but, it almost always starts with an in-depth conversation about what happened. If you have been charged with an auto-theft offense, work with a qualified auto theft lawyer that could fight for you and mitigate the Virginia auto theft penalties that you face.

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