Arrests and criminal charges are serious situations that need immediate attention. In fact, with the sheer multitude of crimes written into statute, not everyone can truly know whether they have done something illegal. Further, in some cases, the crime charged may be a lot more severe than the individual himself/herself even expected. Retaining the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney is essential to having a viable chance at defending criminal charges and mitigating the damage to his/her life. One such crime that many people do not truly understand is carjacking, and, especially the distinction between carjacking and automobile theft. A 14-year-old boy has recently been arrested for allegedly carjacking and assaulting an elderly San Jose man, who was able to record the alleged crimes, as they happened in his own driveway.
California Penal Code Provision 215
Pursuant to California law, carjacking is defined as the taking of an automobile in the possession of another individual, from his/her person or immediate presence, against his/her will, with the intent to either permanently or temporarily deprive that individual of the use of the automobile, accomplished by means of force or fear. Additionally, even though the automobile may not be in an individual’s possession, if that individual is a passenger, and the aggressor does the same things in the sentence above, the aggressor may also be charged with carjacking. Thus, to successfully prosecute the crime of carjacking, the prosecutor must provide evidence of the following:
- The defendant took an automobile which was not his/hers;
- The automobile was taken from the immediate presence of an individual in possession of the automobile or a passenger;
- The automobile was taken against that individual’s will;
- The defendant used force or fear to take the automobile, or to prevent the individual from resisting; and
- The defendant intended to deprive the individual of possession of the vehicle, either temporarily or permanently
It is important to note that there is a distinction between possession and ownership in the crime of carjacking. As such, even if an individual is the legal owner of the automobile, he/she is not allowed to use force or fear in order to regain it from someone else in possession of the automobile.
Defenses to Carjacking
As the above definition would indicate, there are a number of legal defenses that a defendant could use to escape a conviction for carjacking. Some of the more common defenses are as follows:
- Lack of force or fear. By way of example, if an individual came upon an empty automobile with the keys available and gets into the automobile and drives away, he/she did not commit carjacking. Most likely, the individual would be charged with grand theft auto or joyriding.
- Carjacking takes place when the removal of the automobile is against the driver’s or passenger’s will. If there is permission to take the automobile, or it is merely a case of not returning the automobile at an agreed-upon time, then there is no carjacking. Again, this may be an issue of grand theft auto or joyriding, but not carjacking.
Carjacking is a felony, punishable by probation and up to one year of county jail, or three, five or nine years in state prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Additionally, sentence enhancements are possible for causing great bodily injury or if the individual uses a firearm, is part of a gang or has committed two prior violent felonies (sometimes known as the Three Strikes Rule).
Speak to a Criminal Defense Attorney
If you have been arrested on suspicion of carjacking, it is essential that you contact the criminal defense attorneys at Manshoory Law Group, APC as soon as possible. Do not delay, for when the alleged crime is as serious as carjacking, time truly is of the essence to be able to mount an aggressive defense. The attorneys at our office have years of experience in criminal defense, and can use this to provide you with effective counsel. After an analysis of the circumstances, we can help you obtain the best possible outcome. The attorneys there are available 24/7 to take your call. Contact the Los Angeles criminal defense firm today for a consultation.