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Auto Theft

The theft of any motor vehicle is a felony offense in Florida. More commonly known as “grand theft auto,” motor vehicle theft crimes are often investigated by specialized units in local law enforcement agencies.

The value of a motor vehicle can impact the degree of grand theft that an alleged offender is charged with, but the use of force, violence, assault, or putting in fear when taking a vehicle from an alleged victim can result in potential carjacking charges. Even people who take the automobiles of other parties “joyriding” can be arrested for grand theft auto, regardless of whether the alleged offender returns the vehicle or the condition of the vehicle when it is returned.

Lawyer for Grand Theft Auto Arrests in Miami-Dade County, FL

If you were arrested in South Florida for alleged grand theft of a motor vehicle, it is in your best interest to exercise your right to remain silent until you have legal representation. The Hoffman Firm aggressively defends clients accused of theft crimes in South Miami, Homestead, Miami, Coral Gables, Aventura, and many surrounding areas of Miami-Dade County.

Evan A. Hoffman is an experienced criminal defense attorney in Miami who can fight to possibly get your criminal charges reduced or dismissed. He can provide an honest and thorough evaluation of your case as soon as you call (305) 249-0090 to take advantage of a free initial consultation.


North Miami Auto Theft Information Center


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Grand Theft Auto Charges in Florida

A person commits theft under Florida Statute § 812.014 if he or she knowingly obtains or uses, or endeavors to obtain or to use, the property of another with intent to, either temporarily or permanently deprive the other person of a right to the property or a benefit from the property, or appropriate the property to his or her own use or to the use of any person not entitled to the use of the property. An alleged offender commits the third-degree felony offense of grand theft of the third degree if the property stolen is a motor vehicle.

An alleged offender can be charged with the second-degree felony offense of grand theft of the second degree if the property stolen is any of the following:

  • Valued at $20,000 or more, but less than $100,000;
  • Cargo valued at less than $50,000 that has entered the stream of interstate or intrastate commerce from the shipper’s loading platform to the consignee’s receiving dock;
  • Emergency medical equipment, valued at $300 or more, that is taken from a facility licensed under Chapter 395 of the Florida Statutes or from an aircraft or vehicle permitted under chapter 401 of the Florida Statutes; or
  • Law enforcement equipment, valued at $300 or more, that is taken from an authorized emergency vehicle, as defined in Florida Statute § 316.003.

Grand theft auto is the first-degree felony offense of grand theft of the first degree if:

  • The property stolen is valued at $100,000 or more or is a semitrailer that was deployed by a law enforcement officer;
  • The property stolen is cargo valued at $50,000 or more that has entered the stream of interstate or intrastate commerce from the shipper’s loading platform to the consignee’s receiving dock; or
  • The alleged offender commits any grand theft and in the course of committing the alleged offense the alleged offender uses a motor vehicle as an instrumentality, other than merely as a getaway vehicle, to assist in committing the offense and thereby damages the real property of another, or in the course of committing the alleged offense the alleged offender causes damage to the real or personal property of another in excess of $1,000.

An alleged offender commits the first-degree felony offense of carjacking under Florida Statute § 812.133 if he or she uses force, violence, assault, or putting in fear to take a motor vehicle from the person or custody of another, with intent to either permanently or temporarily deprive the person or the owner of the motor vehicle. If an alleged offender carried a firearm or other deadly weapon in the course of committing an alleged carjacking, a conviction is punishable by a possible sentence of life in prison.

People who fail to return rental cars can also face criminal charges. While failure to return hired or leased personal property is typically a second-degree misdemeanor under Florida Statute § 812.155(3), the crime becomes a third-degree felony when the value of the personal property or equipment is of a value of $300 or more (as is almost always the case with rented motor vehicles).


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Auto Theft Penalties in Miami

The possible consequences a person can face if convicted of grand theft auto depend on the specific degree of grand theft that person was charged with. The statutory maximum sentences allowable for felony offenses are as follows:

  • Third-Degree Felony — Up to five years in prison and/or fine of up to $5,000;
  • Second-Degree Felony — Up to 15 years in prison and/or fine of up to $10,000; or
  • First-Degree Felony — Up to 30 years in prison and/or fine of up to $10,000.

It is important to keep in mind that Florida Statute § 812.014(2)(b) states that grand theft auto committed after the declaration of emergency has been made, and the perpetration of the theft is facilitated by conditions arising from the emergency, the offense is a first-degree felony.


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Florida Resources for Grand Theft Auto Crimes

Motor Vehicle Theft Prevention | Safercar.gov — Safercar.gov is the vehicle safety website of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). On this section of the website, you can find tips for reducing motor vehicle theft, a list of the top 10 stolen vehicles in 2014, and the top 10 states for most vehicles stolen in 2014. You can also access various fact sheets, infographics, and reports.

Miami-Dade Police Department | Crimes Five Year Comparison — View statistics for motor vehicle theft offenses committed in the Miami-Dade area between 2010 and 2014. As you can see, motor vehicle thefts decreased each of those five years. The FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting program shows that Miami had the most motor vehicle theft offenses of any municipality in Florida in 2012.


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The Hoffman Firm | Miami Auto Theft Defense Attorney

Were you arrested for alleged grand theft auto anywhere in South Florida? Do not say anything to authorities without legal counsel. Contact The Hoffman Firm as soon as possible.

Miami criminal defense lawyer Evan A. Hoffman represents individuals all over Miami-Dade County, including North Miami, Doral, Miami Beach, Key Biscayne, Hialeah, Opa-locka, and several other nearby communities. Call (305) 249-0090 or fill out an online contact form to have our attorney review your case and help you understand all of your legal options during a free, confidential consultation.


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All fields are required. The use of this form for communication with our personnel does not establish an attorney-client relationship.

Evan A. Hoffman

Evan A. Hoffman

Mr. Hoffman’s philosophy is "our knowledge and experience is your best defense." He has been a featured author on criminal law issues such as driving under the influence, domestic violence and illegal searches.

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