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Joyriding Charge - VC 10851 Lawyer



Joyriding Charge in California - VC 10851 Lawyer 

California defines joyriding or unauthorized use of vehicle charge as:

CA Vehicle Code Section 10851 

"(a) Any person who drives or takes a vehicle not his or her own, without the consent of the owner thereof, and with intent either to permanently or temporarily deprive the owner thereof of his or her title to or possession of the vehicle, whether with or without intent to steal the vehicle, or any person who is a party or an accessory to or an accomplice in the driving or unauthorized taking or stealing, is guilty of a public offense and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by imprisonment in a county jail for not more than one year or pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170 under Code or by a fine of not more than five thousand dollars ($5,000), or by both the fine and imprisonment."

What are examples of joyriding charges in California? 

  • Taking a roommate's car without their permission.
  • Taking a neighbor's car while they are away on vacation to drive without the owner's permission.
  • Babysitter using owner's car to go get some food without owner's permission.

Are there any defenses to the charge of Vehicle Code (VC) 10851, Joyriding?

Yes! There are several defenses to joyriding:

  • The person charged had a legal right to drive the vehicle because they owned it or had a claim of right.
  • The accused or the driver had permission from the owner or was authorized by the rightful owner.
  • The driver took the vehicle under duress or necessity to save a life or prevent another catastrophic event.

What are the penalties for VC 10851, Joyriding Charge in California?

California deems VC 10851 as a wobbler. This means it can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony. The district attorney will look at the facts to see how egregious the act was and if there were any priors. For example, taking a car after prior notices from the owner to not take the car and drinking while committing the repeat offense would likely be charged as a felony.  

Misdemeanor Vehicle Code (VC) 10851, Joyriding in California:

  • Zero - one year.
  • Up to $5,000 in fines.

Felony Vehicle Code (VC) 10851, Joyriding in California:

  • One year and four months, two years, or three years.
  • Up to $5,000 in fines.
  • Up to $10,000 in fines if the vehicle was an ambulance, fire vehicle, or other vehicle modified for disabled people.

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