Joyriding is taking a car without intending to keep it. In contrast, a person who steals a car (grand theft auto) does not intend to return it to the owner. Usually, auto theft is a more serious crime than joyriding.
In both auto theft and joyriding cases, the prosecutor must prove that the defendant took or drove someone else’s vehicle without permission. In most joyriding situations, the prosecutor must prove that the defendant intended to temporarily deprive the owner of the vehicle. For theft, in most states,
Two teens sneak into a garage late at night. They push the vehicle – a beautiful sports car belonging to one of their parents – out of the garage and down the driveway without turning it on. Once away from the house, they start the engine, hop in, and drive away into the night. Hilarious antics ensue.
Merely riding in a stolen car, without more, cannot result in a criminal conviction. However, a person who rides in a stolen car knowing that the car has been stolen (or under circumstances where the passenger should have known that the car was stolen) could be convicted of a crime, as can any person
A car thief breaks the window of a car and “hotwires” the engine. The thief takes the car into the night and is observed, over the next few days, driving the stolen car. Eventually, the car is recovered, abandoned on the street.
State law determines whether you have to move or drive a car in order to be convicted of theft or joyriding. Joyriding is driving a car without permission. Theft is taking a car without permission with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of it.
California has two different statutes that criminalize auto theft. The only difference is whether the defendant intends to take the car temporarily or permanently. Each crime may be punished as a misdemeanor or a felony.
In most states, joyriding (sometimes referred to as unauthorized use of a vehicle) is defined as taking or operating a vehicle without the owner’s consent and without the intent to permanently deprive the owner of the vehicle; or with the intent to temporarily deprive the owner of the vehicle. If you