~ Joyriding ~

The crime of joyriding, according to California Vehicle Code § 10851 occurs when someone takes possess or drives a vehicle that does not belong to them and without the permission or consent of the owner. Intent to permanently deprive the owner of the vehicle is not necessary as the crime occurs by simply taking possession of the vehicle without consent. Joyriding is very similar to the crime of Grand Theft Auto (Penal Code § 487(d)(1)), which requires the intent to deprive the owner of the vehicle. A person who helps someone else take a vehicle under this code section can also be charged with joyriding as well.

Depending on the circumstances of the case, joyriding can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. Misdemeanor joyriding is punishable by not more than one year in the County Jail and / or a fine of up to $5,000. A felony conviction is punishable by a State Prison sentence of 16 months, two years or three years unless an enhancement applies as discussed below and / or a fine of up to $5,000.

If the vehicle that was taken was an ambulance, a distinctively marked law enforcement or fire department vehicle, which is taken while the vehicle is being used on an emergency call and the person taking the vehicle was aware of that fact, then the joyriding can be charged as a felony and the Defendant can be sentenced to State Prison for two, three or four years and receive a fine of up to $10,000, or both prison and a fine. Knowingly taking a vehicle that has been modified for use by a disabled veteran or other disabled person, which is displaying a disabled licensed plate or placard is also chargeable as a felony and can receive the same sentence.

Additional sentencing enhancements can be added under Penal Code § 666.5 for previous convictions as set forth in Vehicle Code § 10851 (e).

Vehicle Code § 10851 states, in part, that:

(a) Any person who drives or takes a vehicle not his or her own, without the consent of the owner thereof, and with intent either to permanently or temporarily deprive the owner thereof of his or her title to or possession of the vehicle, whether with or without intent to steal the vehicle, or any person who is a party or an accessory to or an accomplice in the driving or unauthorized taking or stealing, is guilty of a public offense and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by imprisonment in a county jail for not more than one year or pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170 of the Penal Code or by a fine of not more than five thousand dollars ($5,000), or by both the fine and imprisonment.

(b) If the vehicle is (1) an ambulance …, (2) a distinctively marked vehicle of a law enforcement agency or fire department, taken while the ambulance or vehicle is on an emergency call and this fact is known to the person driving or taking, or any person who is party or an accessory to or an accomplice in the driving or unauthorized taking or stealing, or (3) a vehicle which has been modified for the use of a disabled veteran or any other disabled person and which displays a distinguishing license plate or placard … and this fact is known or should reasonably have been known to the person driving or taking, or any person who is party or an accessory in the driving or unauthorized taking or stealing, the offense is a felony punishable by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170 of the Penal Code for two, three, or four years or by a fine of not more than ten thousand dollars ($10,000), or by both the fine and imprisonment. …

To view the list of crimes by code section (Statute), please click here.

To return to the list of California crimes in alphabetical order, please click here.

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