Unlawful Taking or Driving of Vehicle – California Vehicle Code 10851 VC
The crime of driving or taking a vehicle without consent, known as “joyriding,” is defined under California Vehicle Code 10851, and is simply the unlawful taking someone's vehicle without permission.
Joying is more commonly described as driving around in a stolen vehicle without any particular goal in mind and frequently committed by juveniles.
Vehicle Code 10851 VC joyriding is different than Penal Code 487(d)(1) grand theft auto, because the person who is joyriding doesn't normally intend on permanently keeping possession of the vehicle.
The primary difference between the two California crimes typically depends on how long the defendant intended to keep the vehicle that was unlawfully taken.
Under VC 10851, a “vehicle” includes your regular vehicle, but also a:
- commercial vehicle
- truck tractor
It's worth noting that the passenger in the vehicle could also be charged with joyriding. The prosecutor is not required to prove that a defendant had an intent to steal the vehicle.
Most joyriding cases are committed by male juvenile offenders who unlawfully take the vehicle. Because they think it's exciting and will give them some type of status symbol among their peers.
Many juvenile offenders who commit a joyriding offense will drive in a very reckless manner that creates a serious threat to public safety. It's not uncommon for a simple joyriding offense to lead to serious traffic collisions that cause major injuries and property damages.
Vehicle Code 10851, joyriding is a California “wobbler” crime that can be filed as either a misdemeanor or felony crime.
Our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers are providing a more detailed review below
Juvenile Court System in Los Angeles County
In most situations, a joyriding defendant is a minor and the Los Angeles County Juvenile Court will have jurisdiction over the case.
Under the juvenile court system, there are many crimes that might be considered a delinquent act, rather than a crime.
In making their decision on how to charge an offense, the court will typically consider the:
- nature of the crime
- age of the minor
- criminal record
By having a juvenile criminal attorney on your side, you will have a much better chance at obtaining the best possible outcome on the case. Penalties for a Vehicle Code 10851 violation includes:
- house arrest
- community service
- driver's license suspension
If your child was accused of joyriding, you need to consult with our Los Angeles criminal defense law firm to review the details of the case.
What is the Definition of Joyriding?
California Vehicle Code 10851 VC defines the crime of joyriding:
- Anyone who drives or takes a vehicle not their own, without permission, with intent either to permanently or temporarily deprive the owner of possession of the vehicle, with or without intent to steal the car, or anyone who is an accomplice in driving or unauthorized taking or stealing vehicle, is guilty and punishable by imprisonment of up to one year in county jail, a fine up to $5,000, or by both.
It should the noted that the term “taking” a vehicle means the vehicle was moved, no matter the distance, and it doesn't matter how long you had possession of the vehicle.
If the owner was deprived possession of their vehicle for any amount of time, then you could be facing joyriding charges. As stated, there is no legal requirement that you had intent to steal the vehicle.
What Must Be Proven for a VC 10851 Joyriding Conviction?
In order for the prosecutor to obtain a conviction for VC 10851 joyriding, they have to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, all the elements of the crime that are listed under CALCRIM 1820 that:
- you took or drove the vehicle
- you were not the owner of the vehicle
- you did not have consent from owner to take the vehicle
If it can be proven the defendant had intent to permanently keep possession of the vehicle, or they just kept it for a substantial period of time, they could be charged under California Penal Code 487(d)(1), grand theft auto.
What are the Penalties for VC 10851 Joyriding?
Vehicle Code 10851 joyriding is a California “wobbler” that means the prosecutor can file the case as either a misdemeanor or felony crime.
If convicted misdemeanor joyriding, the penalties include:
- up to one year in county jail
- a fine up to $5,000, or both.
If convicted of felony joyriding, the penalties include:
- 16 months, 2 years, or 3 years in county jail
- a fine up to $10,000, or both.
If convicted of joyriding in an ambulance or police squad car, it will be filed as a felony offense that carry penalties of 2, 3, or 4 years in county jail, and a fine up to $10,000.
The related California crimes for joyriding include:
How Can I Fight VC 10851 Joyriding Charges?
Our Los Angeles criminal attorneys can use a variety of strategies against your charges of joyriding. While every case is unique, some of the most common defenses include:
Consent -We might be able to make an argument that you had a reasonable belief the owner gave you consent to take the vehicle. Recall from the elements of the crime that the prosecutor must be able to prove you didn't have permission to take vehicle. It might be possible to show you thought you had consent.
Misunderstanding – Another potential defense includes making an argument there was simply a misunderstanding between you and the vehicle owner. Perhaps we could show some evidence you had a reasonable belief there was some type of agreement that you could take the vehicle.
Vehicle Ownership – We might be able to make an argument you had a reasonable belief the vehicle belonged to you. For instance, perhaps you believed you were a partial owner because you shared the vehicle with someone else.
Contact Cron, Israels & Stark for Help
Many teenagers feel that taking a vehicle for a short ride is harmless, but the legal consequences of a Vehicle Code 10851 joyriding conviction can be life-altering.
If your child was accused of joyriding, you need to contact our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers to review the details of the case. We have a track record of success defending juvenile clients and will fight for the best possible outcome.
Cron, Israels & Stark is a top-rated criminal defense law firm with a team of highly experienced lawyers.
We are located at 11755 Wilshire Blvd, 15th Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90025. We also have an office at 401 Wilshire Blvd #1200, Santa Monica, CA 90401.
Contact our office for a free case evaluation at (424) 372-3112.