Auto Theft

The Nevada criminal offense of auto theft has many other names, namely grand larceny of a motor vehicle and grand theft auto, and it's not just something you play in video games. Las Vegas is among the US cities with the highest cases of car theft, with 503 reports per 100,000 citizens annually.

The state punishes offenders with severe felony penalties, for example, hefty fines, possible deportation, stained criminal record, restitution, and harsh prison sentences. Whether you committed the crime or not, you could get legal help from an experienced and reputable lawyer. Your lawyer could help with cross-examining witnesses, examining evidence, and designing solid defense strategies for your case.

If you are facing Nevada Revised Statute 205.228 charges or know of someone who is, we at The Law Offices of Martin Hart could help you/ them by investigating the arrest, having the charges lowered, or even dismissed. We take pride in aggressively defending our clients’ rights, freedom, and reputation in Las Vegas.

Auto Theft Definition Per Nevada Statutes

Nevada Revised Statute section 205.228 explains the crime of auto theft. This crime occurs when you take, carry away, steal, remove, tow, or drive a car that someone else owns without permission. The offense means that the motor vehicle’s owner did not permit you to take their vehicle at any given time.

What Elements Does the Prosecutor Prove Before Your Conviction?

For the jury to convict you for theft of a motor vehicle, the prosecution must prove particular elements beyond a reasonable doubt. These pieces of evidence are:

  1. You had the intent to take or steal the motor car
  2. You intentionally carried away or removed the accuser’s vehicle without their consent

Acts that Nevada Statutes Consider Grand Theft Auto

Typical scenarios that constitute to auto theft in Las Vegas are:

  1. Breaking in An Auto and Driving Away. Breaking involves entering an unattended motor car that belongs to someone else using means like smashing the window, damaging the door lock, or stealing its keys. Here, you are said to commit burglary by just entering the car either with the intent to take it or other property inside.

After breaking in the car, you seal the deal when you drive it away. You now commit grand theft auto. You could use stolen car keys or hot-wiring methods to start the engine and take the car. The court can only punish you for violating NRS 205.228 when you carry away or drive off the vehicle.

  1. Refusing to Return a Motor Vehicle to its Owner. Someone could offer you their car because you promised to return it before the agreed time. You commit grand larceny of an auto if you fail to return the motor vehicle to its owner. Another scenario considered as auto theft is where you are operating a car wash business, and your client entrusts you with the car keys. You violate NRS 205.228 if you drive the car away and fail to return it to its owner. Grand theft auto also happens when you fail to return a rented automobile to the establishment you hired from, even though you paid the rent.
  1. Failing to Pay for the Motor Vehicle. You subject yourself to criminal liability under NRS 205.228 when you carry away a vehicle and fail to pay for it as per the agreement. Auto theft is common with second-hand and refurbished vehicles, where the dealer allows a prospective buyer to test drive the car for one or two days. Brand new car sellers also experience these car theft incidences, where the buyer fails to honor a hire purchase agreement. If you are the buyer and fail to honor payment agreements, you commit the Nevada crime of auto theft.

Sentencing, Punishment, and Penalties for Nevada Crime of Auto Theft

Nevada law considers grand larceny a property crime. The court imposes penalties depending on vehicle value. Below are categories of a felony under which auto theft fall and possible sentencing that the court could impose:

Category B Felony

This category of a felony is the second most serious one after category A per NRS 193.130. You are guilty of category B felony if the prosecution proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the value of the vehicle you stole is $3500 and above. If convicted under this category, possible penalties include:

  • Serving time in Nevada State Prison for not less than one year and not more than ten years
  • The court could order you to compensate the accuse an amount equal to the stolen car or another car
  • Paying a fine not exceeding $10,000. The fine is usually separate from other punishment the court imposes
  • Having a permanent criminal record

If the judge sentences you to prison for committing a category B felony, the minimum sentence cannot exceed 40 percent of the maximum one. For instance, if you get sentenced to ten years in prison, the minimum sentence must be below 40 percent of the prison term, which is four years.

Category C Felony

Per NRS 193.130, category C felony comes third in the most serious felony crimes in Nevada. You are guilty of this category of a felony if you steal a motor vehicle with a value of below $3,500. The possible sentencing for category C felony is:

  • Facing not below than one year and not above five years in the Nevada Department of Correction
  • Paying a fine that doesn’t exceed $10,000
  • This entails either paying the accuser an amount that equals the car value at the time you stole is or buying them another motor vehicle

Like category B felony, when a Nevada judge sentences you to prison, the minimum sentence cannot surpass 40 percent of the maximum sentence. The judge determines what penalty to impose on a case by case basis. Therefore, the exact nature of your sentencing varies on several factors like the value of the stolen car, previous criminal record, and the presence of any mitigating or aggravating factors affects your final sentencing.

Legal Defenses Against NRS 205.228 Charges

Each case is unique, so you should hire a criminal defense lawyer who has an eye for detail. Your criminal attorney should carefully tailor every legal defense for the best outcome in your case. 

The Motor Vehicle Belonged to You

The court cannot convict you if someone else accuses you of stealing a car belonging to you. You could prove that the said vehicle belongs to you by producing legal ownership documents. Your defense attorney could also present in court title and registration records as evidence of vehicle possession.

The Car Owner Lend You Their Automobile

No grand larceny of a motor vehicle happens if you take someone else’s motor vehicle after they permit you. You need an experienced defense attorney to help demonstrate your state of mind. You need circumstantial evidence like when, where, and how you took the vehicle to prove that you had zero intent to violate NRS 205.228.

You Did Not Steal the Alleged Vehicle

It’s the prosecutor’s mandate to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you had the intent to steal a car, and you took it away without the owner's consent. If they present vague evidence in court, your criminal defense lawyer could cast doubts in the case. The court could dismiss your case if there are no eyewitnesses who saw you steal the plaintiff’s motor vehicle. Also, you could have no case to answer if the police never found the stolen car in your possession.

You Had a Reasonable Believe That the Car Owner Gave Consent

With the help of your lawyer, you could argue in court that you unintentionally stole the auto. This means you mistakenly believed that the owner gave you consent to drive the vehicle. Per NRS 205.228, the court cannot convict you for grand auto theft until the prosecution proves that you had the intent to steal the car.

Related Crimes to Grand Larceny of a Motor Vehicle in Nevada

There are several other theft crimes related to the Nevada crime of grand theft auto. The prosecution could choose to press these criminal charges together with or in place of NRS 205.228. These crimes include:

Nevada Revised Statute 205.300 – Embezzlement

Embezzlement happens when you steal property that the owner entrusts you with. You could take the property and deny the rightful owner capacity to earn. For instance, you could hire a vehicle from a car rental firm for three days but fail to return the auto on the agreed date. Here, you deny the rental the capacity of renting the car out to another client to earn money.

If found guilty of embezzlement per NRS 205.300, the court could sentence you depending on the money or value of the property you embezzled. Nevada law considers embezzlement of property or money worth $650 as a misdemeanor offense. The judge could order you to compensate for the property value of money lost following your embezzlement offense.

You could pay a fine not exceeding $1,000 or even serve time in jail for six months. If the property value is higher than $3,500, the judge could sentence to prison for a period between one and ten years, fine you an amount not exceeding $10,000, or order you to compensate the property owner an amount the court determines on a case by case basis.

With a complete criminal attorney, you could build solid defenses against embezzlement charges. The legal defense you could use is insufficient evidence against you, or you have a good faith belief that you used the property in a manner that the owner allowed.

Nevada law considers embezzling property worth above $650 but below $3,500 as a category C felony. Possible punishment includes paying a fine of not more than $10,000, serving time in Nevada State Prison for between one and five years, or restitution.

Nevada Revised Statute 200.380 – Robbery

Nevada law refers to robbery as stealing someone else's property manner and in their presence. You could use violence, force, or fear of harm on the accuser, their relatives, or someone in their company during your crime commission.

Often, people confuse robbery with burglary. While both acts are theft crimes, robbery is an offense against someone else while larceny and burglary are against property. The crime of robbery comes with severe penalties.

Per NRS 200.380, if arrested for robbery, you are charged under category B felony. The court decides what penalty to impose, depending on the circumstances. For instance, the jury imposes more severe punishment if you wield a deadly weapon, or use tear gas.

Nevada Revised Statute 205.220 - Grand Larceny

Also known as grand theft, grand larceny occurs when you deliberately take someone else’s property worth $650 or above. If the value of the property is below $650, you get charged with petit larceny per NRS 205.240. Possible punishment for the grand larceny under NRS 205.220 depends on circumstances surrounding the case.

You are charged with a category C felony if the value of the stolen property was between $650 and $3,500. You could spend time in state prison for one to five years if found guilty or pay a fine of $10,000. If the property was worth more than $3,500, you get charged with category B felony. Possible punishment, if convicted, includes serving time in state prison for not less than one year and not more than ten years, restitution payments, or paying a $10,000 fine.

Contact a Theft Crimes Defense Attorney Near Me

NRS 205.228 charges are serious. However, the charge doesn't have to lead to severe punishment. The accuser could have falsely accused you, or the prosecution could have charged you with a higher charge. All that is needed is finding a reputable criminal lawyer to represent you in court.

At The Law Offices of Martin Hart, we offer exquisite legal counsel to clients. Our team in your corner could be a huge asset. We work diligently to help clients achieve results they deemed impossible. Call us at 702-380-4278 to receive advice concerning your auto theft charges and legal defenses in Las Vegas.