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Joy Riding, Car Theft and Juvenile Consequences

Published December 16, 2020 by ADRAS & ALTIG, Attorneys at Law
time lapse of driving in Las Vegas, NV

Any juvenile who commits a crime in Nevada may face serious penalties in the juvenile justice system as a result. A conviction of any juvenile crime may have consequences that follow a minor for years, but how much time could a teen potentially get for stealing a car?

Below, we’ll explore this topic and potential defenses that could be used in a juvenile auto theft case. Read on or call us to find out more. We offer free and confidential consultations.

‘Joyride’ Versus ‘Grand Theft Auto’

Regardless of the value of a particular car, there is no such thing as the “petty theft” of an automobile. That means almost all forms of car theft are legally considered grand theft auto. Grand theft auto cases typically involve accusations of a person taking or attempting to take another individual’s car without the intention of returning it to the owner.

Like many states, however, Nevada makes a distinction between grand theft auto and joyriding.

Joyriding is a type of property crime, referred to as the “unlawful taking of a vehicle” in the Nevada Penal Code. In the eyes of the law, the main distinction between joyriding and grand theft auto is that in cases of joyriding, the person who takes a car does so without intending to keep it.

Can a Juvenile/Teen Go to Jail for Stealing a Car?

Grand theft auto is generally considered a more serious offense than joyriding, though the differences between each type of crime are subtle.

If you have been accused of grand theft auto, a juvenile criminal defense attorney can build a case to demonstrate that you had no intention of stealing a vehicle you may have taken. If successful, this could have a significant impact on the charges or sentences you may face.

Juvenile offenders are considered “delinquents” rather than criminals, though the punishments they may face for violations are often similar to those imposed on adults who are convicted of crimes. While juveniles convicted of theft are rarely sent to adult penitentiary facilities, they may very well be sentenced to time in juvenile detention if they are found guilty.

What Are Grand Theft Auto Penalties for a Juvenile?

Depending on the unique nature of your juvenile grand theft auto case, a conviction could lead to one or more of the following legal penalties:

  • Fines – Common for juvenile theft crimes, but typically smaller than adult fines.
  • Restitution – Payment for damages caused by juvenile violations.
  • Counseling – Psychiatric therapy, evaluation, or commitment.
  • Probation – Temporary, court-ordered supervision outside of detention facilities.
  • Detention – Part-time or full-time confinement in a youth center or juvenile home. The court has the flexibility to determine a length of time that it deems appropriate.

Potential Defenses to Car Theft Charges

No matter how serious the allegations you face, an experienced Nevada juvenile criminal defense lawyer can help you craft a compelling defense and provide the best chance at a favorable outcome.

Some possible defenses your attorney may pursue for your juvenile car theft charges involve:

  • Consent – If you can establish that you had the car owner’s consent to use or relocate their vehicle, you may be able to show that you committed no crime.
  • Intent – You may also be able to prove that you did not intend to permanently remove the car from the owner’s possession, in which case your crime may be simple joyriding rather than grand theft.

Other issues may be involved in your case as well. For example, there could be problems with the way the police investigated the case that could lead to key evidence being thrown out.

Talk to a Juvenile Criminal Defense Lawyer Now

Any Nevada minor facing juvenile charges of grand theft auto or joyriding has the right to a compassionate and effective legal defense. If you or your minor child has been charged with auto theft in Las Vegas, NV reach out to criminal defense lawyers Adras & Altig by phone or contact us online to schedule your free initial consultation.

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