Unlawful Taking a Vehicle Without the Owner's Consent Cases Under California Vehicle Code 10851 in the LAX Airport Court
This is a big question, because with all these people coming in the airport, there are a lot of individuals who are renting cars and then not returning them when they're supposed to.
If you're a day or two late, if you call in, if your credit card is on file and they're able to bill your credit card, then you're not going to have a problem. But, if you start this game where:
- you're weeks and months late, or
- you cause the car to get stolen,
- somehow your credit card doesn't work anymore, and
- the rental car company is out money, and
- even their vehicle in some cases.
Then, you're going to get arrested and charged with California Vehicle Code 10851 VC, which is taking a vehicle without the owner's consent.
California Vehicle Code 10851 VC
The way that works is, you took it when you were asked to return it and you didn't return it. That's when the taking occurs.
When you originally took it, you took it lawfully because you signed the paperwork, you paid the money, you have a credit card and ID.
But once you keep that vehicle past what is reasonable under the circumstances, that's when you're going to get that charge of taking the vehicle without the owner's consent.
Then the next question becomes, what can we do with that? Because, this is difficult for a lot of people. Some people who do this don't have a criminal record.
They have various reasons that they got themselves in the position where they ended up with getting charged with this particular crime.
One good thing about the Airport Court is, there is an opportunity if you really truly did something wrong, to stay out of jail and set things up so you can get a misdemeanor.
Trial vs. Plea Bargain
If, on the flip side, you're innocent and you don't feel that you did anything wrong, then obviously, you get your attorney to enter a not guilty plea, you push the case to trial and you try to convince a jury that you're innocent. But, to be innocent, I would say it's really going to be a reasonableness assessment. In other words:
- did you act reasonably under the circumstances?
- did the rental car company act reasonably under the circumstances?
The jury could find that you really didn't do anything wrong and it was just by some sort of happenstance or mistake that things went awry and the rental car company was compensated.
If that's the case, I don't really see why you should have to take a conviction for driving without the owner's consent in the Airport Court.
However, if on the other hand, the rental car company was out money, your activities look shady like you were doing something wrong.
Like at some point you decided you weren't going to give that car back and you didn't handle things appropriately.
Maybe you caused the car to get stolen, whatever the case may be — then you're not going to have a chance to win and you're going to need your attorney to work out some sort of a deal for you.
Factors Considered By Prosecutor
The type of factors that are going to influence the prosecutor to the positive are going to be:
- if you don't have a criminal record,
- if you could make the rental car company whole,
- if you didn't lose the car,
- if you didn't damage the car.
Once you can make the car company whole and you don't have a record, now the prosecutors will start to see you in a different light and you have a much stronger possibility of either getting the case dismissed.
Or, you could work out some sort of a deal for a misdemeanor, doing what they call a civil compromise where the other party agrees to sign a waiver, basically saying that they don't want you prosecuted, they just want their money back.
Once they get their money back, their okay with the case being dismissed against you.
Criminal Defense Attorney for California Vehicle Crimes
That doesn't necessarily mean that the prosecutors have to listen to that. They're the ones that control the charges. That's why it's so crucial to have an attorney like me who's been a former prosecutor in the early 1990s.
I worked for a Superior Court Judge, and now been a criminal defense attorney for the last 27 years. I stand in a pretty strong position to be able to work for you, to be able to convince the prosecutors that you're not one of those people who deserve to be punished to the full extent of the law.
They should give you the benefit of the doubt, and I will do everything possible to put you in the best position.
Pick up the phone. Ask for a meeting with Ron Hedding. I stand at the ready to help you.
Hedding Law Firm is a top-ranked criminal defense law firm located in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles County at 16000 Ventura Blvd #1208 Encino, CA 91436.
We serve clients throughout LA County, Ventura County, Orange County, Hollywood, Riverside, and San Bernardino. Contact us for a free case evaluation at (213) 542-0979.