The Attorney To Turn To When Things Get Tough

Can joyriding lead to automobile theft charges in California?

On Behalf of | Feb 13, 2024 | Criminal Defense |

Joyriding involves taking a vehicle for a spin without the owner’s permission, solely for the purpose of temporary enjoyment. The intent is not to permanently deprive the owner of their vehicle.

However, joyriding, which movies often show as a thrill-seeking activity, can have serious legal consequences. This is especially true in California, where laws on automobile theft are strict.

The legal perspective

In California, joyriding falls under the broader category of “unauthorized use of a vehicle.” According to California Vehicle Code Section 10851, it is illegal to take, drive or use a vehicle without the owner’s consent. This includes joyriding scenarios where individuals take a vehicle without permission, even if their intention is not to keep it permanently.

Potential charges

Individuals may face misdemeanor or felony charges. If the joyriding incident involves aggravating factors such as causing damage to the vehicle, evading law enforcement or using the vehicle in the commission of another crime, the charges and penalties can escalate.

Automobile theft charges

While joyriding itself may not always result in automobile theft charges, it can potentially lead to such charges if the circumstances meet the criteria for theft. If the joyriding extends beyond a temporary joyride and authorities believe the individual intended to keep or permanently deprive the owner of their vehicle, authorities may classify the offense as theft.

Individuals convicted of joyriding or automobile theft in California may face fines, probation, community service, restitution to the vehicle owner for damages and even imprisonment, particularly for felony charges.

Joyriding, which people often see as a momentary thrill, can have long-lasting consequences.