Charlotte Grand Theft Auto Lawyer

Charlotte Grand Theft Auto Lawyer

Theft charges in North Carolina encompass offenses that involve an individual intentionally taking property that does not belong to them. When the property stolen is of high value, charges can become considerably harsher and have severe consequences. Grand theft auto is seen as one of these more heinous forms of theft due to the high value and stakes that are involved in stealing a car.

However, North Carolina differs from other states because it has no legislation that defines “grand theft auto” as its own crime. To better understand larceny charges involving stolen vehicles, reach out to The Law Office of Kevin L. Barnett to learn about your rights.

Charlotte Grand Theft Auto Lawyer

Experienced Auto Theft Representation in Charlotte

No matter the charge, facing a larceny conviction is often one of the most intimidating situations our clients find themselves in. At The Law Office of Kevin L. Barnett, our firm’s objective is to offer accessible, unbiased defense counsel for North Carolina residents. Backed by three decades of insight, our team can fight for strong solutions and defend your rights in almost any criminal case. If you were arrested for auto theft in Charlotte, NC, or you’d like to learn more about your rights in a larceny case, our experienced staff at The Law Office of Kevin L. Barnett is ready to help you fight these charges.

Understanding Grand Theft Auto in North Carolina

In most states, “grand theft auto” is the term used to describe motor vehicle theft. The phrase comes from the basic larceny charge “grand theft,” which is used when an individual steals property of high value. In North Carolina, however, grand theft auto is not its own distinct crime. Instead, motor vehicle theft cases are handled by considering a variety of state laws. The most prominent law that is used to convict a defendant for auto theft is known as “grand larceny.” Grand larceny is North Carolina’s unique version of grand theft and applies to any individual who steals property that is worth $1,000 or more. The most important aspect of any grand larceny charge is the intent of the defendant. To be charged with grand larceny, the prosecution must prove they had the intent to deprive the owner of the stolen property permanently.

North Carolina also has multiple vehicle-related offenses that you may be charged with in addition to grand larceny. Other forms of auto theft in Charlotte include:


Carjacking is another offense that North Carolina does not have a distinct law for. Instead, the state classifies carjacking as a serious form of robbery. Carjacking is defined as the act of taking another person’s vehicle by threatening them or using force and violence.

The primary differences between a carjacking and the grand larceny of a vehicle are the intent of the defendant and how the crime occurred. For example, in carjackings, the owner is present and is forced into giving the defendant their vehicle. The intent of that driver may not have been to take the car originally, but they can still be charged with carjacking. In cases of grand larceny, the defendant must have intended to permanently take a vehicle from someone else.


With joyriding offenses, the motivation of the defendant is also what defines their charge. Joyriding occurs when one person takes another person’s car without permission, but they do not intend to keep it permanently. An example would be a defendant taking a car without the proper authorization, using it for their own benefit, and then returning it when they’re done. North Carolina classifies joyriding offenses as Class 1 misdemeanors.

Larceny of an Automobile Part (Grand or Petty)

When someone steals parts from a car, whether they are valuable or not, they can be charged with larceny. If the part or parts are valued below $1,000, an individual may be charged with petty larceny. However, if an individual steals auto parts that are valued above $1,000, they can face a separate charge known as “larceny of a motor vehicle part.” Larceny of an automobile part is considered a Class 1 felony and carries stricter penalties than the average misdemeanor theft charge.

Larceny of Fuel

Larceny of fuel is an auto-related theft charge that is separate from general theft. This is because gasoline is a regulated, potentially hazardous substance that must be handled carefully. If an individual steals motor fuel valued under $1,000, it is classified as a Class 1 misdemeanor. When motor fuel is stolen and is worth more than $1,000, it becomes a felony larceny. North Carolina also states that if an individual is caught stealing fuel more than once, no matter how much it is worth, they can have their license revoked.

Possessing, Receiving, or Selling a Stolen Automobile

If you are aware that a vehicle has been stolen, or have sufficient “reason to believe” that it has been stolen, it is illegal to possess, obtain, or try to sell that automobile. When an individual is found with a stolen vehicle, or is part of a transaction involving one, they can be charged with a felony if they are convicted.

Penalties for Auto Grand Larceny in North Carolina

Because there are no grand theft auto charges in North Carolina, a defendant will be charged based on the value of the stolen vehicle. When an individual steals property that is worth less than $1,000, it is still considered a misdemeanor. This means that if a defendant is convicted of stealing an automobile that was worth less than $1,000, they may only be charged with petty larceny and receive consequences for a misdemeanor. Penalties for a Class 1 misdemeanor in North Carolina can include:

  • Up to 120 days in local jail
  • Fines (with no set maximum)
  • Community service

In most cases of automobile theft, the vehicle that was stolen is worth much more than $1,000. This means that, following the state’s theft laws, stealing an automobile worth more than $1,000 is considered grand larceny. Grand larceny is a felony in North Carolina, most often categorized as Class H. Class H felonies can carry penalties such as:

  • A minimum of 4 months in prison and up to 25 months
  • Fines (with no set maximum)
  • Probation
  • Community service

Why Are Lawyers Important in Auto Theft Cases?

The laws surrounding automobile theft in North Carolina are clearly complex. This is why legal professionals will implore you to work with a defense team that can offer you insight on varying theft laws and your constitutional rights. The Law Office of Kevin L. Barnett has been practicing criminal defense for decades. This allows us to form defenses that are strong enough to combat an experienced prosecution and whatever evidence they may be holding. Having an accomplished lawyer who knows the field and how legal proceedings work can offer you exclusive advantages throughout your case. Our team has been aiding North Carolina residents with their criminal defense concerns for over thirty years. We have the intellect, experience, and passion needed to provide you with exceptional representation and are ready to help you today.

Is There a Statute of Limitations for Auto Theft Cases in North Carolina?

Similar to other criminal offenses, some auto theft claims also have a statute of limitations. The statute of limitations on a claim depends on whether the case was considered a misdemeanor or a felony in North Carolina. For the misdemeanor theft of a vehicle worth less than $1,000, an individual and the prosecution have up to ten years to file a claim against the defendant. If the case involved the theft of a car worth at least $1,000, it becomes a felony claim. In North Carolina, felonies do not carry statutes of limitations, and an individual can attempt to hold a defendant accountable at any time.

Is Keeping a Rental Car for Too Long Considered Vehicle Theft?

Another common auto-related offense that is seen throughout North Carolina is the violation of rental car terms. If an individual rents a car through a company and agrees to certain legally binding terms, they are required to respect them. This means that if you keep a rental car for longer than you agreed to or paid for, you can ultimately be charged with an auto-related crime in North Carolina. Individuals who use rental cars without permission can face carjacking, joyriding, and even grand larceny charges.

Criminal Defense for Grand Theft Auto in Charlotte

Whether you were charged with the grand larceny of an automobile or someone you love was arrested for joyriding, making sure that you discuss your unique circumstances with a criminal defense lawyer is crucial. Here at The Law Office of Kevin L. Barnett, we are prepared to invest our time and knowledge into your case. No matter how troubling your situation may seem, we can work with you to determine solutions and combat the claims against you. For assistance with a grand larceny charge involving motor vehicle theft in Charlotte, don’t be afraid to see how our team can help.

Contact The Law Office of Kevin L. Barnett today to request a consultation.


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