California Vehicle Code 10851 VC – Joyriding Criminal Statute

California Vehicle Code Section 10851 VC is known as the “joyriding criminal statute” and it makes it unlawful for a person to drive or take another person’s vehicle without the vehicle owner’s consent to do so.

To convict a person of joyriding, the prosecution must show that the defendant had the specific intent to temporarily deny the vehicle owner possession of his vehicle. Often, defendants charged with grand theft auto have their grand theft auto charges reduced into a joyriding charge. This occurs when the prosecution has difficulty proving that the defendant intended to permanently deprive the owner possession of his vehicle.

Also, if a person engages in joyriding in violation of Vehicle Code 10851, the prosecution has the discretion to charge the defendant of either misdemeanor joyriding or felony joyriding. If convicted of joyriding, the defendant faces up to up to three years in county jail, as well as a fine of up to $10,000.

So, if you have been charged with joyriding, you should immediately contact an experienced joyriding defense attorney at The H Law Group to defend you and keep you from going to jail for a very long period of time. Our defense lawyers have the knowledge and experience necessary to achieve the most favorable outcome for you. Schedule your free consultation today by filling out the contact form below or by calling us at 1 (213) 370-0404.

Text of Joyriding California Vehicle Code 10851 VC

According to the joyriding criminal statute, California Vehicle Code (10851 VC) states that Any person who drives or takes a vehicle not his or her own, without the consent of the owner thereof, and with intent either to permanently or temporarily deprive the owner thereof of his or her title to or possession of the vehicle, whether with or without intent to steal the vehicle, or any person who is a party or an accessory to or an accomplice in the driving or unauthorized taking or stealing, is guilty of a public offense and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by imprisonment in a county jail for not more than one year or pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170 of the Penal Code or by a fine of not more than five thousand dollars ($5,000), or by both the fine and imprisonment.”

Proving a Person Guilty of Joyriding in Violation of VC 10851

For the prosecution to convict a person of joyriding in violation of Vehicle Code 10851, the prosecution must prove a number of elements as true beyond a reasonable doubt. If the prosecution fails to prove even one element, it will not be able to convict the defendant of this crime.

The prosecution must prove the following elements:

  • The defend took or drove off with another person’s vehicle
  • The owner of the vehicle did not give the defendant consent to take his vehicle
  • The defendant acted with the intent to deprive the owner of the vehicle of his vehicle for any period of time (temporary or permanent)

Note: Joyriding is easier to prove than grand theft because the prosecution need only prove that the defendant intended to temporarily deprive the defendant of his vehicle. It is not required to prove that the defendant intended to permanently deprive the owner of the vehicle of his vehicle. The prosecution can prove this element by showing that the defendant took the vehicle under suspicious circumstances that would lead a reasonable person to believe that he at least intended to temporarily deprive the owner of the vehicle of his vehicle.

What Are the Penalties if You’re Convicted of Joyriding?

In California, joyriding is a wobbler, meaning the prosecution has the discretion to charge a violation of vehicle code 10851 VC as either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the facts of the case, as well as the defendant’s criminal history.

Misdemeanor Joyriding Conviction Penalties

  • Conviction of a misdemeanor offense
  • Up to 12 months imprisonment in county jail
  • A fine of up to $5,000
  • Summary informal probation

Felony Joyriding Conviction Penalties

  • Conviction of a felony offense
  • 16 months, 24 months, or 36 months in county jail
  • A fine of up to $10,000
  • If the defendant has been charged with felony joyriding or felony grand theft, he can be sentenced to up to four (4) years in county jail

Defenses for Joyriding Charges

If you have been charged with joyriding, there are a number of defenses that your attorney can make to defend you. Here are some of the defenses that your attorney may use to defend you:

  • The defendant had the vehicle owner’s consent to drive or take the vehicle
  • The defendant was acting under duress, meaning he was unable to formulate the intent necessary to be convicted of the crime
  • The defendant is being falsely accused of joyriding
  • The defendant is a victim of mistaken identity
  • The defendant was acting under a claim of right, meaning he owned the car – this situation often arises when there is a discrepancy as to who owns the vehicle the defendant is accused of taking

Crimes Related to Joyriding

If you have been charged with joyriding, here are some other crimes that are relevant and may be charged in conjunction with joyriding:

  • California Penal Code 487(d)(1) – Grand Theft Auto
  • California Penal Code 487 – Grand Theft
  • California Penal Code 459 – Automobile burglary

There are more crimes that may be charged in conjunction with joyriding, but these are among the most commonly charged crimes along with joyriding.

Contact an Experienced Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney

If you or a loved one has been charged with joyriding in violation of CVC 10851, you should immediately contact an experienced Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney at The H Law Group to defend you.

Our defense attorneys have the knowledge and experience to best defend you and mitigate the potential consequences that you face. Hire the defense attorneys at The H Law Group and rest assured that your future is in excellent hands. Schedule your free consultation today by filling out the contact form below or by calling us at 1 (213) 370-0404.

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