Spring break is coming again. So are thousands of thrill-seeking teenagers and college students eager to escape winter and turn Florida into their tropical playground. Some might even dare to rustle up a crew, hot-rod along the beach in somebody else’s vehicle, bring it back undamaged and wonder what all the fuss is about.
While there is no specific law against joyriding in Florida, dismissing it as a youthful stunt would be a mistake. Taking another person’s car without their permission can lead to charges of grand theft auto. This is true even if the driver had no intention of keeping the car, and everyone else in the car had no idea what their friend did was wrong. If your child is convicted of grand theft auto, they could face jail time, an expensive fine or both – regardless of whether it was a luxury convertible or a rusted jalopy.
What really happened?
There could be a reasonable explanation for why your child used the vehicle that can help build their defense.
- Did the owner allow it? There might have been some confusion about if and when somebody could use the car.
- Was there a joint-ownership agreement? A handshake deal could explain why someone would just grab the keys and go.
- How about an emergency? Someone suffering a heart attack or in a health crisis needed immediate transportation, and this vehicle was the only one available.
Tell the whole story
Grand theft is a serious and wide-ranging crime that can have major repercussions, even for someone who thought they were just having fun under the sun. Criminal charges can jeopardize your child’s future, especially when they are young and have never been in trouble. Your child may have good grades in school, hold down a job and volunteer at a local soup kitchen. An experienced defense attorney can work to tell a broader story outside of a simple misunderstanding – which can help to get your child’s charges dropped.