Auto Theft

Theft of an automobile (commonly referred to as grand theft auto) is a felony offense in Florida. Depending on the value of the motor vehicle involved, alleged offenders could receive sentences involving decades in prison as well as thousands of dollars in fines.

While the phrase grand theft auto has become more glamorized in recent years because of the popularity of the video game series by the same name, prosecutors take these charges very seriously. If a person believes that he or she is being investigated for the alleged theft of a motor vehicle, it is critical for that individual to not say anything to authorities without legal representation.

Lawyer for Auto Theft Arrests in Brooksville, Florida

Were you arrested or do think that you might be under criminal investigation for an alleged grand theft auto offense in Central Florida? The Law Office of Ashley Aulls, P.A. aggressively defends clients accused of all kinds of theft and property crimes all over Pasco County, Hernando County, Citrus County, and Sumter County.

Ashley Aulls is an experienced criminal defense attorney in Brooksville who fights to get criminal charges reduced or dismissed. Call (352) 593-4115 today to have our lawyer provide a full evaluation of your case during an initial consultation.

Overview of Auto Theft Crimes in Florida

Back to top

Auto Theft in Florida

In the state of Florida, theft includes taking or using someone’s property without permission. Theft can occur through physically taking the property or obtaining it through fraud. Theft laws apply to both taking property temporarily and permanently.

An individual who decides to take a vehicle for a joy ride is committing theft, as is an individual who outright steals a vehicle. Motor vehicle theft isn’t restricted to just automobiles. Stealing motorcycles, trailer, bus, or truck, are all considered auto theft. All auto vehicle thefts are considered felonies in Florida.

Back to top

Auto Theft Charges in Hernando County

The degree of a felony that an auto theft crime is graded as depends on the degree of theft that an offense is classified as. Under Florida Statute § 812.014, theft crimes involving motor vehicles are classified as follows:

An auto theft crime is the first-degree felony offense of grand theft in the first degree if:

  • The property allegedly stolen is valued at $100,000 or more
  • The property allegedly stolen is a semitrailer that was deployed by a law enforcement officer;
  • The alleged offender allegedly commits any grand theft and, in the course of committing the offense the alleged offender uses a motor vehicle as an instrumentality, other than merely as a getaway vehicle, to assist in committing the offense and thereby damages the real property of another, or in the course of committing the offense the alleged offender causes damage to the real or personal property of another in excess of $1,000.

Grand theft auto is the second-degree felony offense of grand theft in the second degree if the property that was stolen is valued at $20,000 or more, but less than $100,000. In all other cases in which the stolen property is a motor vehicle, auto theft is the third-degree felony offense of grand theft in the third degree.

Back to top

Auto Theft Penalties in Florida

The possible consequences of a grand theft auto conviction are severe. Depending on the specific grade of the alleged offense, an individual could be subject to one the following statutory maximum sentences:

  • First-Degree Felony — Up to 30 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000;
  • Second-Degree Felony — Up to 15 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000; or
  • Third-Degree Felony — Up to five years in prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000.

In addition to incarceration and fines, grand theft convictions also carry very serious long-term consequences. People who have these offenses on their criminal records can experience numerous hardships when attempting to obtain employment, housing, or professional licenses.

Alleged offenders in these cases may be able to utilize any one of a number of defenses, including a lack of intent to permanently deprive an owner of the motor vehicle involved or possible confusion about having the owner’s consent to take the automobile. Every case is unique, so it is important to have a criminal defense attorney examine which defenses are the strongest for your particular situation.

Back to top

Florida Auto Theft Resources

Crime in Florida | Hernando County — View a Florida Department of Law Enforcement summary of criminal activity in Hernando County for 2015. As you can see, the more than $2 million value of stolen motor vehicles and the over $1.3 million value of motor vehicles recovered were the greatest amounts of any type of stolen property. Of the 228 stolen vehicle that were recovered in 2015, 111 were both stolen and recovered locally, 64 were stolen locally and recovered by other jurisdictions, and 53 were stolen in other jurisdictions and recovered locally.

Florida Department of Law Enforcement
Brooksville Field Office
19241 Cortez Boulevard
Brooksville, FL 34601
(800) 226-1140

Walker v. State, So. 3d, 2016 WL 231731 (Fla. 1st DCA 2016) — On January 20, 2016, the First District Court of Appeal reviewed this case in which the appellant challenged the summary denial of his motion for postconviction relief after being convicted of grand theft of an automobile. The appellant based his motion on a claim of newly discovered evidence, specifically that his co-defendant who was not available at trial would testify that the appellant did not intend to commit the grand theft of the vehicle and took no action to help the co-defendant. The trial court dismissed the motion because it was facially insufficient due to the appellant’s failure to attach an affidavit from the co-defendant detailing his proposed testimony, but the Court of Appeal ruled that the appellant was entitled to one opportunity to file a facially sufficient motion which included the required affidavit and reversed and remanded the denial of the appellant’s claim of newly discovered evidence for the trial court to grant the appellant one opportunity to file a facially sufficient claim.

Back to top

The Law Office of Ashley Aulls, P.A. | Brooksville Auto Theft Lawyer

If you believe that you could be under investigation or you were already arrested in Central Florida for alleged grand theft auto, it is in your best interest to immediately retain legal counsel. The Law Office of Ashley Aulls, P.A. defends clients throughout the greater Hernando County area, including Weeki Wachee, New Port Richey, Inverness, Spring Hill, Wildwood, Brooksville, and many surrounding communities.

Brooksville criminal defense attorney Ashley Aulls works tirelessly to help alleged offenders achieve the most favorable outcomes to their criminal cases. He can review your case and discuss all of your legal options when you call (352) 593-4115 or submit an online contact form to schedule a confidential consultation.

Back to top