Donte T Wyatt -
A good criminal attorney will understand your car theft case.
Under California Law the theft of a motor vehicle can be charged in a variety of ways depending on the surrounding
circumstances of the theft itself. If a person breaks into a locked car and steals property from inside of the
previously locked vehicle the person can be charged with burglary of a motor vehicle in violation of California
Penal Code section 459.
However, if a person actually takes the vehicle with the intent to permeanantly or temporarily deprive the
true owner of the vehicle the person can be charge with a number of Penal Code section and or the Vehicle Code
Vehicle Code section 10851:
To prove that the defendant is guilty of this crime, the People must prove that:
1. The defendant took or drove someone else’s vehicle without the owner’s consent;
2. When the defendant did so, (he/she) intended to deprive the owner of possession or ownership of the vehicle for
any period of time.
Penal Code section 487d
Grand Theft Auto is the illegal taking of a motor vehicle with the intent to permenantly deprive the person of the
vehicle. The primary distinction between this charge and that of Vehicle Code section 10851 is that the Vehicle
Code section allows for the temporary deprivation of the vehicle thus making the Vehicle Code section charge easier
to prove. When a person is accused of stealing a car it is not unusual to see the person charged with both of these
sections and or Penal Code section 496(d), possession of a stolen vehicle.
Penal Code section 496(d)
1. The defendant (bought/received/sold/aided in selling/concealed or withheld from its owner/aided in concealing or
withholding from its owner) property that had been (stolen/obtained by extortion);
This charge is often alleged in conjunction with Penal Code section 487 and or Vehicle Code section 10851. In
addition, a person is charged under this section solely if they are in possession of a stolen vehicle, but they
were not observed driving the vehicle and there is no evidence that the person in possession of the vehicle
actually participated in the theft of the vehicle.
An experienced criminal defense attorney with will usually target the knowledge element of this charge. The person
in possession of the stolen vehicle has to actually know that the vehicle had been stolen.
Penal Code section 215
The most serious of the auto theft statues is car jacking in violation of Penal Code section 215. Car Jacking is
essentially a robbery where the item taken is a vehicle from the person of another. Therefore the elements mirror
the elements of robbery.
1. The defendant took a motor vehicle that was not (his/her) own;
2. The vehicle was taken from the immediate presence of a person who possessed the vehicle or was its
3. The vehicle was taken against that person’s will;
4. The defendant used force or fear to take the vehicle or to prevent that person from resisting;
5. When the defendant used force or fear to take the vehicle, (he/she) intended to deprive the other person of
possession of the vehicle either temporarily or permanently.
Car Jacking in violation of California Penal Code section 215 is a strike offense and the punishment can be enhance
if it involves a kidnapping as well.
Attorney Donte T. Wyatt has extensive experience handling all types of car thefts ranging from auto burglaries to
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