From the perspective of Texas criminal law with regard to auto theft, there is no specific law that clearly defines, or directly cites auto theft. With that said, auto theft, or “unauthorized use of a motor vehicle” charges, are handled as theft crimes with the penalty being largely based on the value of the vehicle stolen, or “used without authorization”.
Auto theft cases can be charged as misdemeanor crimes if the value of the vehicle is below 1500.00, however, with most vehicles being worth dollar amounts that often go far north of 1500.00, most auto theft or “joyriding” cases end up charged as felonies.
As you may well know, felony theft offenses carry criminal penalties that range from 180 days state jail to 99 years state penitentiary (TDCJ).
Penalties for Theft & Auto Theft Offenses
CLASS B MISDEMEANOR
If the value of the vehicle is over 50.00, but less than 500.00, the defendant will be charged with a Class B Misdemeanor which carries a potential county jail sentence of up to 180 days in addition to fines of up to 2,000.00.
CLASS A MISDEMEANOR
If the value of the vehicle is over 500.00, but less than 1500.00, the defendant will be charged with a Class A Misdemeanor which carries a potential county jail sentence of up to 1 year in addition to fines of up to 4,000.00.
STATE JAIL FELONY
If the value of the vehicle is over 1,500.00, but less than 20,000.00, the defendant will be charged with a State Jail Felony which carries a potential prison sentence of 180 days to 2 years in a correctional facility in addition to fines of up to 10,000.00.
3RD DEGREE FELONY
If the value of the vehicle is over 20,000.00, but less than 100,000.00, the defendant will be charged with a 3rd Degree Felony offense which carries a maximum fine of 10,000.00 and prison sentencing guidelines which range from 2 to 10 years.
2ND DEGREE FELONY
If the value of the vehicle is over 100,000.00, but less than 200,000.00, the defendant be charged with a 2nd Degree Felony offense which carries a maximum fine of 10,000.00 with a potential jail term that can range from 2 to 20 years in prison.
1ST DEGREE FELONY
Enhanced 1st Degree Felony charges will apply if the value of the vehicle stolen is over 200,000.00. The penalties include a potential fine of up to 50,000.00 in addition to a prison term that ranges from 5 to 99 years.
Arrested for Auto Theft in Houston?
Accused of auto theft, or joyriding as it is so often referred? You’ll need a lawyer. Call attorney Christian Capitaine at 832-618-7831 for an immediate legal review of your case, the circumstances, and what the police added to their report.
Attorney Christian Capitaine has been dedicated to defending the people of Houston & Harris County, TX for over 15 years, if you need help, don’t hesitate to call the Capitaine Law Firm, experience defense attorneys for persons facing auto theft accusations.