Virginia Auto Theft Laws
If you steal a car in Virginia, you won't be facing the familiar "grand theft auto" charges. Because the state doesn't have a stand-alone car theft statute, Virginia's auto theft laws exist within the state's larceny (equivalent to theft) statute. Specifically, most car theft would be categorized as "grand larceny." To be guilty, the actor must:
- Take another's property (valued at more than $200);
- Without consent; and
- With the intent to permanently deprive the owner of their property rights.
Intent is a very important element to the crime. Without the actor's intent to deprive the car owner of their rights, then the crime could be considered "joyriding." For example, if a person takes a roommate's car without consent but only intends to use it temporarily, it would considered an unauthorized use of a vehicle (a lesser charge than grand larceny).
Use of Force
If you take a car by intimidating or scaring the owner into submission through force or violence, then the offense has shifted from larceny into robbery. This act constitutes carjacking under Virginia's statute.
Virginia Auto Theft Laws at a Glance
The value of being aware of every detail in a statute can't be underestimated, especially in the subject area of criminal law. Attorneys receive special training to be able to accomplish this. However, it's helpful for the nonlawyer to understand the law via a practical summary written in plain language. The chart below has been created to help explain Virginia's auto theft laws.
Penalties and Sentencing
Unauthorized use of a vehicle:
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.
Virginia Auto Theft Laws: Related Resources
Don't Face Auto Theft Charges without An Attorney
If you're accused of auto theft in Virginia, then you probably want to work with an experienced professional who can evaluate the strength of the case against you. Contact a local criminal defense attorney who will advocate on your behalf.
You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.
Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney
Contact a qualified attorney.