If you leave your vehicle with a valet or auto mechanic, there usually is an understanding that the person taking care of your vehicle will not take it for a joyride. But there’s no denying that joyriding does happen – and not just in the movies, if you’re thinking of that quintessential scene from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Joyriding typically is defined as the intentional and temporary taking of another person’s motor vehicle without their permission.
Is Taking Someone’s Car Without Permission a Felony in Florida?
In some states joyriding is a separate offense from felony grand theft of a motor vehicle, which is usually defined as the taking of another’s vehicle with the intent to permanently deprive that person of the vehicle. However, Florida law combines the two, so if you knowingly take or use another’s motor vehicle with the intent to deprive that person of their vehicle, either permanently or temporarily, you can be found guilty of felony grand theft. In other words, even if you decide to take someone’s vehicle for a temporary joyride, you can be prosecuted and convicted for felony grand theft.
The degree of felony you can be charged with depends on the facts and circumstances of your case. Typically, the theft of a motor vehicle in Florida is a third degree felony and a conviction can be punishable by a fine of up to $5,000, and imprisonment for up to five years. The offense may be elevated to a second degree felony if the vehicle is valued between $20,000 and $100,000. In Florida, penalties for a second degree felony conviction can include a fine of up to $10,000, and jail time of up to fifteen years. If you take a vehicle that is worth $100,000 or more, or you damage real or personal property in excess of $1,000 during the course of the offense, or you use the stolen vehicle to assist you in committing the offense, you can be charged with first degree felony grand theft. First degree felonies can be punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 and up to thirty years in jail.
Burglary of a Conveyance
According to Florida Statute 810.02(4)(b), Burglary of a Conveyance is a crime defined as the unlawful entry into a conveyance, staying inside the conveyance secretively, or staying inside a conveyance when permission the to remain has been taken away with the intention of committing a burglary or other crime inside the conveyance.
Under Florida law, the legal term, "conveyance" is used to describe any motorized vehicle, boat, vessel, ship, car, railroad vehicle, aircraft, or trailer. It is a felony offense when an individual unlawfully enters a conveyance with the intention of committing a crime. In defending a client charged with Burglary of Conveyance, it is essential that we consider a strategy that there was no intention to commit a crime.
In criminal conveyance cases where the conveyance was occupied during the alleged unlawful entry, the criminal charge could be enhanced (increased) to a more severe second degree felony. If during the course of the alleged unlawful entry, the accused possesses a firearm, the criminal conveyance charge could be elevated to a felony in the first degree. If the suspect allegedly commits assault or battery during the burglary, the crime is charged as a first degree felony.
If the accused is alleged to have entered a conveyance and does not have the consent or the permission of the owner and then removes any personal property from the property owner, the accused will also be charged with another offence. If the property removed has a value of $300 or less, the offense will be charged as misdemeanor “Petit Theft.” If the property removed was greater than $300, the offense will be charged as felony “Grand Theft.”
Other Motor Vehicle Theft Offenses in Florida
It is no surprise that stealing a rental vehicle and carjacking are also serious crimes in Florida. If you fail to return a rental car you can be charged and convicted of a third degree felony. If you carjack a vehicle, or intentionally take someone else’s vehicle by use of force, assault, violence, or other threat, you can be charged and convicted of a first degree felony. If you carjack the vehicle while carrying a firearm or other deadly weapon, you face possible life imprisonment.
Accordingly, any motor vehicle theft in Florida, whether the intent is to temporarily or permanently deprive the owner of their vehicle, can have serious consequences. Penalties for any vehicle theft can include hefty fines and lengthy jail time, and even life imprisonment under some circumstances.
Any crime involving theft are considered crimes of dishonesty. A conviction of a crime of dishonesty will have a negative and far-reaching impact on the accused’s future licensing, employment, and educational endeavors. As criminal defense attorneys, our goal is to help our clients successfully resolve any charges add to the original burglary offense. Our firm fights to beat a conviction for each and every one of our clients.
Avenues for Defending You Against all Burglary Criminal Charges
The circumstances and facts of a burglary case are very unique. An experienced criminal defense attorney will want to understand the following:
- Did the accuse actually enter the conveyance or motor vehicle?
- Was the accused just a “look out” and he or she never entered the conveyance?
- Did the accuse leave fingerprints or physical evidence at the scene of the alleged crime?
- Was the accused intoxicated by drugs or alcohol and use poor judgement at the time of the alleged crime?
- What was the intention or motivation for entering the conveyance?
- Was the conveyance unlocked?
- What kinds of property were allegedly removed from the conveyance?
If you have been arrested and charged with grand theft of a motor vehicle, or any motor vehicle theft, it is important that you speak with a knowledgeable and experienced criminal defense attorney right away. The attorneys at the Musca Law will review the facts of your case, can advise you of your rights and responsibilities, and can help you determine the best options and strategy for fighting your motor vehicle theft charge.