Joyriding generally refers to using someone else’s motor vehicle with the intention of returning it. Unlike other states, Florida law treats these offenses as grand theft which can result in paying significant fines, serving prison time and probation, and having a criminal record. If you or your child has been charged with this offense, contact a Ft. Lauderdale joyriding lawyer to discuss the charges and determine what legal defenses may apply to you and your family. It may be critical to speak with an experienced theft attorney regarding your case. En Español.

What is Joyriding?

Joyriding is generally considered a grand theft offense. A theft occurs when someone:

  • Knowingly obtains or uses the property of another
  • With the intent to, either temporarily or permanently deprive the person of a right to the property or a benefit from the property
  • Appropriates the property to their own use or to the use of any person not entitled to use the property

Florida recognizes three degrees of theft. Third-degree grand theft charges result when someone steals $300 or more worth of property. Penalties include up to five years in prison or five years of probation and a $5,000 fine. When someone steals $20,000 or more worth of property, they can face second-degree grand theft charges. Penalties include up to 15 years in prison or 15 years of probation and a $10,000 fine. A first-degree grand theft charge is when someone steals $100,000 or more worth of property. Our Ft. Lauderdale lawyers have seen penalties that include up to 30 years in prison with a maximum fine of $10,000.

Possible Defenses for Joyriding

There are several defenses that a lawyer in Ft Lauderdale may use against a joyriding offense. While the specific strategy depends on the facts of the case, some of the most common defenses include:

  • The defendant was under duress to commit this crime against their will
  • The defendant had equal ownership of the vehicle.
  • Lack of intent. State law requires prosecutors to prove that the person intended to steal the vehicle. If someone had a good faith belief that they had a right to use the vehicle – or that the owner consented, then intent to steal it does not exist.
  • Arguing that there was a mistake of fact, which refers to someone not understanding that a certain action or inaction was against the law
  • Arguing that there was a necessity, which refers to conduct that may have been necessary to prevent some greater harm

What is the Difference Between Carjacking and Joyriding?

The main difference between carjacking and joyriding is that the former typically involves stealing a car by using force or violence. Alternatively, joyriding typically involves someone taking a car without permission and returning it before the owner finds out. While one may seem more serious than the other, both can result in serious consequences, especially if someone fails to return the car they took for a joyride. Additionally, if a person has a firearm while stealing a car, this could elevate the charge.

Help from a Ft Lauderdale Joyriding Attorney

An experienced Ft. Lauderdale joyriding lawyer could determine which legal defenses apply to your specific offense. We team could also evaluate whether the potential exists to have those charges dismissed for first-time offenders who may be able to participate in a diversion program or perform community service in lieu of facing criminal grand theft penalties. Joyriding can have serious consequences – especially to young adults who are typically charged with these types of offenses. If you or your child is facing these charges, contact Leifert & Leifert today.

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