13-Year-Old Boy Crashes into a Senior Center During Joyride

A 13-year-old teen in Chula Vista who took his parents’ car for a wild joyride overnight crashed into a senior service center and then left the scene of the accident.  The Chula Vista Police Department (CVPD) said the joyride began with the teen crashing into a parked Dodge Ram truck. He then continued driving down East Palomar Street, making a too wide of a turn.  As a result, the car jumped the curb, ran across the sidewalk, and then smashed through a fence and into St. Paul’s Plaza, a senior service center.

The unnamed teen sustained minor injuries, but walked away from the scene. The boy was found a short time later and taken to Rady Children’s Hospital with unspecified injuries.  No one else was injured.  The incident is under investigation but police said they do not believe alcohol played a role in the crash. It is unclear, at this point, if the teen will be charged in the joyride crash, although he theoretically would still face civil charges of property damage from the senior center even if police choose not to criminally charge him.

The Crime of Joyriding

Joyriding, which is addressed in the California Vehicle Code 10851(a), is defined as driving or taking a vehicle that does not belong to you without the owner’s permission.  Vehicles include passenger vehicles, motorcycles, motor scooters, buses, school buses, commercial vehicles, trucks, tractors, trailers and semi-trailers.  In order to ‘take’ a vehicle, you must move it; it does not matter how far you took it or how long you had the vehicle.  To be convicted of joyriding, it is also not a requirement that you intended to steal the vehicle—unlike a charge of grand theft auto.

In order to convict you of joyriding, the prosecution must prove that:

  • You drove or took a vehicle;
  • The vehicle did not belong to you; and
  • You did not have permission to drive or take the car.

Legal Defense

If you can prove that you own the vehicle, or that you had good reason to believe you did, you cannot be charged with joyriding.  For example, one of the reasons you might have believed a car was yours is in the case of divorce– if you shared a car with your spouse, and you were unaware after your separation that the car did not belong to you.

Another legal defense is that the owner of the vehicle gave you permission to borrow his or her car.

San Diego Criminal Defense Lawyer

When you fail to perform any appropriate measures after a crash, you open yourself up to trouble.  While this story had a happy-enough ending (no one was hurt), joyriding can always lead to the possibility of a hit and run as well, if you injure someone and leave the scene of the accident.  If you or a loved one has been charged with joyriding, grand theft auto, or a hit and run, the Law Offices of David M. Boertje is dedicated to finding the best defense available for you.  We will always seek a not-guilty verdict or compromise of a lesser sentence when possible.  Contact the office for a free consultation.  We look forward to providing you with superior criminal defense representation.