Auto Theft Defenses

What Are The Best California Auto Theft Defenses?

Being convicted of auto burglary in California is an extremely serious crime that should not be taken lightly. Fortunately, our expert Torrance criminal defense lawyers are well-qualified to defend your rights when it comes to this type of charge.

Auto burglary refers to entering a locked vehicle with the following intent:

  1. To steal items from inside the vehicle (grand theft or petty theft)
  2. To steal the vehicle (grand theft auto)
  3. To commit another felony inside the vehicle

Depending on your particular auto burglary charge, a California auto theft defense can include the following:

  • "It was not your intent to steal" defense: If you were inside a vehicle, but did not intend to steal anything from it, then you cannot be convicted of auto burglary. Even if you did break into a car or truck with the intent of stealing valuables or money from the vehicle, a prosecutor will have a difficult time proving this allegation. It should be recognized, though, that it is within the rights of police officers to charge you with auto burglary in this type of situation.
  • "The vehicle door was not locked" defense: This type of auto burglary defense is a significant one, as the doors of a vehicle must be locked if you are to be found guilty of automobile burglary in California. To be convicted of this charge, you must alter the physical condition of the vehicle, such as by breaking a window or a seal.
  • "You did not have the intent to deprive" defense: This defense is used in a situation in which you had no intention of keeping the vehicle in question. Instead, you intended to use the vehicle on a temporary basis and, in turn, had no intent to deprive the owner of his or her vehicle permanently.
  • "You received consent from the vehicle's owner" defense: You must enter a vehicle without the consent of the owner to be charged with auto burglary. Thus, consent from the rightful owner of the car or truck negates this element altogether.

The team at Ernenwein & Johnson, LLP, consists of experienced and aggressive Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers with over 40 years of combined experience. Robert and Stephanie are both former Los Angeles deputy district attorneys. Robert is Certified as a Criminal Law Specialist by the California State Bar Board of Legal Specialization and has been named a Super Lawyer by Los Angeles magazine.