The law is quite clear. You’re not allowed to drive another person’s vehicle unless you have their permission. Taking another person’s car is auto theft.
If you’re caught, you’ll be charged with one of the following offenses:
✨ Grand Theft Auto
✨ Receiving stolen goods
The first time you’re charged and convicted of any of these three crimes, you’ll face severe legal consequences and have a criminal record that will follow you around for the rest of your life. Any additional time you’re charged with a form of auto theft, the consequences will be significantly worse.
It won’t take long for the police to discover that you’ve previously been convicted of auto theft. Once they learn of this earlier conviction, they’ll attach a sentencing enhancement to your charge. In this case, the sentence enhancement is Cal PC 666.5 which is better known as the auto theft with a prior enhancement.
Don’t assume that just because the sentence for the previous auto theft charge didn’t include any actual jail time that you don’t have to worry about the auto theft with a prior enhancement. You do. The severity of the sentence you received before doesn’t matter, the only thing that matters to the court, in this case, is that you now have a history of auto theft.
The auto theft with a prior enhancement means that the consequences for the auto theft charge are significantly worse than it would be if you didn’t already have a history of auto theft. In the case of grand theft auto, the enhancement means the judge’s sentence after you’re convicted could include
✦ 2-4 years in a state priors
✦ Up to $10,000 in fines
It’s also highly likely that you’ll be required to pay restitution if the vehicle you stole was damaged while you were in possession of it.
If you already have a charge of some type of auto theft on your record, it’s in your best interest to avoid anything that potentially puts you in contact with a stolen car. Don’t even get into a car you don’t own unless you have irrefutable permission from the owner.