Virginia Auto Theft Defense 

To prove auto theft, a prosecutor must show that a person unlawfully took someone else’s vehicle with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of that vehicle. Those are the main elements of auto theft or any larceny charge in Virginia. To prepare a defense to the charges, the defense lawyer examines the government’s evidence and determines whether it is sufficient to prove each of the criminal elements. Contact a professional Virginia theft lawyer who can point you in the right direction for auto theft cases.

Initial Steps When Preparing a Defense

Once the lawyer obtains all of the information from the client, they explore the government’s case by entering an order for discovery. That compels the government to share all of the relevant pieces of the government’s case including any statements made by the accused with the defense team. Once the lawyer has the information and evidence from both sides of the case, they have a much better idea of how best to prepare for trial.

Probation/Reduced Sentencing Options

When a person is found guilty of an auto theft crime in Virginia, the odds are high that the government will pursue active incarceration time for the conviction. An attorney can help the person build up a mitigation profile to convince the court that probation or a reduced sentence, which might be less than what the government seeks is appropriate. Examples of things that a person might do in mitigation are community service hours or presentation of previous good deeds to the court.

Auto Theft vs. Other Theft-Related Offenses

In terms of what the government must prove, there is no difference between auto theft and other theft-related offenses. Auto theft charges are prosecuted under the larceny statutes in Virginia, so the only difference is that the item stolen is a vehicle.

There is no functional difference between how a defense lawyer represents auto theft cases versus other theft cases. The elements are exactly the same because they are prosecuted under the same larceny statute.

Importance of Legal Representation

When a lawyer is used for an auto theft case, they first examine all of the evidence in the case to determine the defenses to the evidence the government seeks to admit and intends to use. The lawyer considers all available statutory and constitutional defenses to see what the best outcomes could be.

At the same time, the lawyer prepares for the possibility that the government can prove their case. When it looks like the government can prove their case, the lawyer goes into mitigation mode and starts negotiating with the government to obtain an outcome favorable to the person with the least amount of exposure possible under the law to punishment.