Grand Theft Auto

Florida has no specific “grand theft auto” statute as many states do. In Florida what is commonly known as grand theft auto, thanks to video game fame, is really nothing more than a third degree felony count of grand theft where the subject matter of the theft happens to be a motor vehicle. Even if the value of the motor vehicle is valued at a petty theft amount, the crime is still considered a felony. Should the subject matter of the theft happen to be a semitrailer deployed by a law enforcement officer, the crime becomes much more serious in that the charge becomes a first degree felony. You should also know that for a theft crime involving an automobile, if you are adjudicated guilty you will very likely lose your driver’s license for 6 months to a year. Tampa and other areas of Florida take this crime very seriously in that they have specific divisions of local police agencies dedicated to solving grand theft auto crimes and arresting individuals involved. Our lawyers have handled all kinds of theft allegations and have consistently helped to reduce our clients’ charges, get them into pretrial diversion programs, negotiated a plea agreement beneficial for both the short term and long term, or tried our client’s case. Our criminal attorneys work diligently to achieve a result otherwise not possible without the aid of an experienced criminal lawyer.

In Florida, “motor vehicle” is defined in Florida Statute 320.01(1)(a) to be:

“An automobile, motorcycle, truck, trailer, semitrailer, truck tractor and semitrailer combination, or any other vehicle operated on the roads of this state, used to transport persons or property, and propelled by power other than muscular power, but the term does not include traction engines, road rollers, special mobile equipment as defined in s. 316.003(48), vehicles that run only upon a track, bicycles, swamp buggies, or mopeds.”

Semitrailer is defined under Florida Statute 320.01(5) to be:

“[A]ny vehicle without motive power designed to be coupled to or drawn by a motor vehicle and constructed so that some part of its weight and that of its load rests upon or is carried by another vehicle.”

An allegation involving any of the above defined motor vehicles will leave you charged with a third degree felony at minimum.

According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (“NICB”), in 2010 Florida ranked #3 out of all 50 States for frequency of auto thefts. Even more shocking and relevant for Tampa Bay area residents, in 2011 the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater area ranked #162 in auto thefts out of every metropolitan statistical area studied in the United States. In the NICB’s 2012 “hot wheels” list, listing the most stolen cars in the United States, surprising enough more modern and flashy cars weren’t on top. This list is as follows:

  1. 1994 Honda Accord midsize
  2. 1998 Honda Civic compact
  3. 2006 Ford F-150 pickup
  4. 1991 Toyota Camry midsize
  5. 2000 Dodge Caravan minivan
  6. 1994 Acura Integra compact
  7. 1999 Chevrolet Silverado pickup
  8. 2004 Dodge Ram pickup
  9. 2002 Ford Explorer SUV
  10. 1994 Nissan Sentra compact

Florida takes motor vehicle theft very seriously. Police agencies are well aware that motor vehicle theft is often associated with other crimes including dealing in stolen property and drug related crime. If you’ve been charged with the theft crime of grand theft of a motor vehicle, don’t attempt to navigate the process alone. The penalties are always severe when the tangible object the subject of a theft is someone’s vehicle. Call today to speak to a Tampa criminal attorney at 813-444-7435. We’re available to speak with you on the phone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.