According to FBI estimates from 2012, the cost of vehicle thefts in the U.S. topped $4.3 billion. With these losses, it's no surprise that states have been focusing on vehicle theft, and Georgia is no exception. Georgia's law enforcement authorities have been collaborating with federal authorities and using vehicle tracking devices, for example, to target one of the big drivers of motor vehicle theft -- the "chop shop " industry.
When it comes to Georgia's motor vehicle theft laws, there are a number of criminal charges that can apply in any case. Beyond Georgia's general theft laws, a defendant could also be charged with carjacking, joyriding, entering a motor vehicle with the intent to commit a crime, and operating a chop shop. There are unique elements to each crime and they can involve rather stiff criminal penalties, especially if multiple charges apply in a case.
Georgia Motor Vehicle Theft Laws At A Glance
The chart below contains more information on specific motor vehicle theft laws in Georgia.
|Penalties and Sentences
Hijacking a Motor Vehicle: This is a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison and up to $100,000 in fines
Joyriding/Criminal Trespass: This is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year in prison and up to $1,000 in fines.
Theft By Taking/Receiving Stolen Property: This can be a misdemeanor or felony depending on the value of the motor vehicle. If under $5,000, then it is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year in prison and up to $1,000 in fines. If between $5,000 and $24,999, it is a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and up to $100,000 in fines. If $25,000 or higher, it is a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison and up to $100,000 in fines.
Entering Vehicle With Intent To Commit a Theft or Felony: This is a felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison.
Owning/Operating Chop Shops: This is a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and up to $100,000 in fines.
Defenses to motor vehicle theft laws include:
- Age (persons under age 13 cannot be found guilty of a crime)
- Mental incapacity
- Mistake of fact
- The conduct was justified or excused by the situation (a person stealing a vehicle to rush someone to the hospital or evade an attacker)
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
Georgia Motor Vehicle Theft Laws: Related Resources
Charged Under Georgia's Motor Vehicle Theft Laws? Talk to an Attorney
As you can see, Georgia has a number of different motor vehicle theft laws, each of which can involve significant penalties. If you've been charged with any crimes related to the theft of a motor vehicle, it's important to remember that the prosecution has to prove each element of its case beyond a reasonable doubt. It's a good idea to contact a skilled criminal defense attorney in Georgia who can evaluate the evidence against you and help you identify weaknesses in the prosecution's case.