30-year-old Fidel Galindo was arrested on October 22nd for attempting to break into an off-duty deputy's SUV in Laguna Niguel. The deputy chased Mr. Galindo down after seeing him near his SUV. When he finally caught up with him, he held him until Orange County Sheriff's Department deputies arrived.
Mr. Galindo was booked and is currently held on a $20,000 bail for attempted auto theft. California has two laws which address the theft of automobiles - Grand Theft Auto and Unlawful Taking/Driving of a Vehicle ("Joyriding"). Both may be charged either as a misdemeanor or felony depending on the facts of your case and if you have any similar prior convictions.
Penal Code 487(d) (1) defines grand theft auto (GTA) as intent to permanently deprive the owner of the vehicle. This offense is typically prosecuted as a felony and subjects you to anywhere from 16 months to four years in State Prison as well as up to $10,000 in fines. The second law, Vehicle Code 10851 ("Joyriding"), requires intent to temporarily deprive the owner of the vehicle. This offense is typically charged as a misdemeanor and subjects you to a maximum of 1 year county jail.
If Mr. Galindo had broken into the car before he stole it, he may additionally be charged with auto burglary under Penal Code 459. However, if an experienced criminal defense attorney can prove that you didn't intend to deprive the owner of his/her car, you can't be convicted of GTA or vehicle theft.
Criminal Law Updates by Law Offices of William W. Bruzzo (714) 547-4636