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Joyriding vs. Vehicle Theft: What’s the Difference?

Posted by Matthew Maddox | Feb 10, 2021 | 0 Comments

Some juvenile crimes start as innocent mistakes such as taking a quick ride around the block in mom or dad's car. Unfortunately, joyriding is a crime just like vehicle theft. Yet, there are specific differences between the two.

What Is Joyriding?

Unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, also known as joyriding, happens when your child operates a vehicle without consent. For example, your teen may decide to sneak out at night and take your vehicle for a quick trip with friends without your consent.

Being unaware of your teen's trip, you may suspect theft and call the police. Once your teen is caught, they could be charged with a joyriding crime.

Joyriding & Theft Intent

The main difference between joyriding and theft is intent. Joyriding involves an individual who simply wants to borrow the vehicle with every intent of bringing it back. Theft occurs when a teen takes a car or other vehicle with the intent of keeping it.

The Penalties for Joyriding vs. Vehicle Theft

Another difference lies in the penalties for joyriding and vehicle theft. The State of Texas takes both crimes seriously, regardless of age.

Joyriding Penalties

Joyriding is a state jail felony in Texas. This means punishment can range from a hefty fine of up to $10,000 or up to two years in jail, depending on the extent of the crime committed. It's possible that a teen could face adult court if the crime committed is severe enough.

Vehicle Theft Penalties

In Texas, vehicle theft penalties depend on the value of the property stolen. For example, theft penalties can range from misdemeanors to first-degree felonies. If the vehicle stolen is worth less than $2,500 in fair market value, the individual may face a misdemeanor which means a fine and/or jail time. Anything greater in value could result in a felony charge.

Has Your Juvenile Child Been Caught Joyriding? Call Us Today!

Maddox Law is dedicated to fighting on behalf of your child to protect his or her rights. If your child is facing a felony charge due to joyriding or auto theft, we recommend reaching out to an attorney. To learn more or speak to an attorney today, give us a call at 972-546-2496 or send us a message.

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Matthew Maddox



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