What is Grand Theft Auto?
When a person is arrested for stealing a car, it usually means a charge of Penal Law § 155.35 Grand Larceny 3rd Degree (Class D Felony). A common plea offer in a situation where the prosecutors appear to be able to prove their case is a plea to Penal Law § 165.05 Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle 3rd Degree (Class A Misdemeanor). This isn't a bad deal since the defendant just went from a felony with a maximum possible sentence of 2 1/3 - 7 years in state prison, down to a misdemeanor with a maximum possible sentence of one year in the local jail. That being said, it isn't a perfect deal.
Not everybody realizes that Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle 3rd Degree is a predicate offense, meaning that a second charge for Unauthorized Use is a felony. Most prosecutors do know this, and that is why they won't offer a reduction to a charge of Petit Larceny (also a Class A Misdemeanor) when the original charge is Grand Larceny and it involves the theft of a vehicle. We would hope that a person would only face one Grand Larceny charge in their lifetime, but defendants should be warned that in the case of this plea bargain, like so many others, they are potentially setting themselves up for more serious consequences if they get into trouble again. If you are facing a criminal charge, contact Adam Militello, Esq. by calling (585) 485-0025.