Call Today

Auto Theft Defense Lawyer

Aggressive Auto Theft Defense Attorney Serving Jacksonville, Wilmington, and Surrounding Areas.

Jacksonville, North Carolina Auto Theft Defense Lawyer

You may be familiar with the popular video game “Grand Theft Auto”, but that doesn’t mean you’re fully aware of the true complexities and harsh repercussions of the crime across various U.S. states. For example, instead of simply respawning in a hospital, someone who commits grand theft auto in real life could pay thousands of dollars in fines, spend years behind bars, and deal with a tainted criminal record forever.

Criminal law for theft is complicated, especially in North Carolina. That’s why it’s crucial to have an experienced NC theft defense attorney on your side if you’re charged with grand theft auto. Aden Wilkie of The Wilkie Law Group is familiar with the complexities of larceny laws in North Carolina. He will make sure that your rights are protected throughout the entire legal process while working to obtain the most favorable solution for your case.

To get straight to work on your defense by establishing your attorney-client relationship with theft defense attorney Aden Wilkie, call 910-333-9626 today.

What is Grand Theft Auto Crime?

Grand theft is a felony in most states, and it generally means that someone stole something worth more than a set dollar amount. North Carolina doesn’t have specific grand theft auto laws as they do in other states, though. If someone commits motor vehicle theft, the suspect will be prosecuted under the state’s general larceny laws.

In North Carolina, someone can commit the equivalent of what is considered grand theft if they steal an item worth more than $1,000 (which is a Class H felony). Meanwhile, if someone steals an item worth less than $1,000, they will likely face a Class 1 misdemeanor larceny charge for petty theft. Cars are almost always worth more than $1,000, so stealing a parked vehicle is essentially the legal equivalent of grand theft auto in North Carolina.

grand theft auto crime north carolina

How Many Auto Thefts Happen Every Year?

Billions of dollars are lost each year due to the unlawful taking of motor vehicles in the United States. In fact, the III reports that $7.4 billion was lost due to auto theft in 2020, with Americans stealing 810,400 cars this year alone. This happens to be the most vehicles stolen annually since 2008. Law enforcement believes that the main motivation behind the sudden jump in 2020 car thefts was the general economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Is Stealing a Car a Felony in North Carolina?

If stolen property or a stolen vehicle is worth more than $1,000, the suspect may be facing felony charges in North Carolina. More specifically, unauthorized use of a stolen car would likely result in a Class H felony.

How to Prove Grand Theft Auto Crime in North Carolina

To prove that grand theft auto occurred in North Carolina, the prosecution must prove the following elements.

  • The suspect stole or drove a vehicle that doesn’t belong to them;
  • The suspect stole or drove a vehicle without the owner’s permission;
  • The suspect committed vehicle theft with the intent to permanently deprive the victim of their vehicle.

Other Types of Auto Larceny Charges

Car theft isn’t the only type of crime that’s prosecuted under North Carolina’s larceny laws. Other vehicle-related crimes include carjacking, joyriding, and stealing car parts or fuel.


Carjacking is a serious crime that occurs when a person steals a motor vehicle from owners through threats or force. A gun is generally involved in the scenario, but not always. In North Carolina, carjacking is prosecuted as a robbery because, as previously explained, the state doesn’t have specific auto theft crime laws.


Joyriding is a less serious crime, but is still a criminal offense, nonetheless. This occurs when a person temporarily takes a car on a ride without the owner’s consent. Oftentimes, suspects commit this crime by using false pretenses against the victim. The main element of joyriding is the intent to not deprive the victim of their vehicle permanently. In North Carolina, joyriding is a Class 1 misdemeanor.

Larceny of a Motor Vehicle Part or Fuel

Theft of a car part or car fuel may be charged as either a felony or misdemeanor, depending on the value of property stolen. A person may receive a Class 1 misdemeanor charge in North Carolina if they steal motor fuel that’s worth less than $1,000. If the person happens to steal more than $1,000 in fuel, their charge will be bumped up to a felony. In addition, if someone steals car parts that cause the victim to pay more than $1,000 in repairs, they will receive a Class I felony charge.

Keeping a Rental Car

Someone who keeps a rental car passed a certain amount of time can face serious penalties for auto theft. However, like the other auto theft offenses, there is no specific “rental car theft” offense in North Carolina. So, depending on the facts of a case, a suspect may receive general larceny charges.

auto theft crime north carolina

Jail Time for Possession of a Stolen Vehicle in North Carolina

Auto theft results in serious penalties in North Carolina. Someone who commits the equivalent of grand theft auto can expect to spend anywhere between 4 and 25 months behind bars and pay thousands of dollars in fines. However, jail time for auto thefts also depends on the defendant’s criminal history. If you have prior convictions on your record, you may likely receive even harsher penalties.

Possible Defenses for Auto Theft

A grand theft auto charge can feel hopeless without the right team of criminal defense lawyers on your side. An experienced theft defense attorney like Aden Wilkie from The Wilkie Law Group can potentially have your criminal charges reduced by using the legal defenses listed below:


One of the main elements of any theft crime is consent. If an attorney can prove that the owner of the vehicle consented to you using it, this may no longer be a legal issue. For instance, say you’re facing an auto theft charge because you borrowed your friend’s vehicle. Maybe you genuinely thought you had their consent to borrow their car because they allowed you to borrow their car several times in the past. If this is the case, theft attorney Aden Wilkie can say that you had a good faith belief that your friend consented to you borrowing their car.

Mistake of Fact

Another possible defense for grand theft auto is mistake of fact. This defense could work in your favor if you mistakenly misunderstood any of the facts in your situation. For example, maybe you borrowed or used a car that you truly didn’t know was stolen. In that case, Aden Wilkie will fight for a reduction or dismissal in your criminal charges.

Permanent Deprivation

Another crucial element of auto theft is intent. If you didn’t intend to permanently deprive the owner of their vehicle, you may be able to evade the significant penalties that come with larceny. Instead, you could be charged with a separate crime, such as joyriding, which would result in less jail time and fewer fines.

False Identification

Let’s say that someone who looks like you were caught stealing a car on a security camera, but that person isn’t you. This defense would be even stronger if you presented an alibi, which is evidence proving that you were somewhere else when the crime occurred. In that case, Aden Wilkie could say that the car owner is making false accusations against you and that you clearly did not commit the crime.

These are only some of the possible defenses that might be used in your favor. To learn more about potential defense strategies that may be utilized in your case, speak with an experienced Jacksonville defense attorney today.

auto theft defense lawyer jacksonville

Call Jacksonville Auto Theft Defense Lawyer Aden Wilkie As Soon As Possible

People accused of committing theft crimes need the best defense possible to avoid thousands of dollars in fines and years behind bars. Criminal defense lawyer Aden Wilkie offers the best legal help in Jacksonville, North Carolina, and the surrounding areas. He has years of knowledge and experience in handling all sorts of criminal cases and protects all of his client’s confidential information while fighting for the best-case outcome possible. Call 910-333-9626 today or complete our online intake form for a consultation.

Hire The Best

It is crucial for you to have an experienced auto theft defense attorney on your side. Contact us today at 910-333-9626 for a consultation and decide for yourself if The Wilkie Law Group is the best choice for you.

Jacksonville, NC Military & Criminal Defense Attorney