Carjacking is considered to be a very serious violent theft crime under California Penal Code Section 215. in short carjacking is the taking a motor vehicle from the possession or immediate presence of the victim.
In some very serious circumstances, carjacking convictions can also carry the punishment of life imprisonment but that's rare because sentences are getting shorter in some California cities. Even if your punishment is not that serious, you will have to live the rest of your life with a criminal record, facing difficulties in securing jobs, and even finding good housing.
What Are the Elements of Carjacking under Law?
To consider an offense as carjacking, the following conditions need to be met:
1. Presence of Another Person Inside or Around the Vehicle
The car should have been within the reach or control of another person. The victim could be the driver, a passenger, or someone outside the car.
2. Vehicle Taken Against the Will of the Victim
If the car is in your possession, without the consent of the driver or the owner, you may be guilty of carjacking. If the victim is coerced into handing over the vehicle, the taking will still be considered against their will.
3. Use of Fear or Undue Force
There needs to be use of physical force during the offense, out of fear of which the victim may have handed over the vehicle.
Penalties for a Carjacking Conviction in California
The laws related to the offense of carjacking are defined under Section 215 of the California Penal Code. It is a felony and carries prison time if a person is found guilty. It includes imprisonment up to 9 years, which can be increased if there is evidence of one or more of the following factors during the crime:
1. Injury to the Victim
Additional prison time of 3 to 6 years can be added if, during the execution of the carjacking, the victim receives any great bodily injury.
2. Use of a Weapon or Firearm
If your carjacking charge includes the use of a weapon, depending on how it was used, additional prison time varying from 10, 20, and 25 years can be added to your sentence.
Common Defenses Against a Carjacking Charge
· Lack of Immediate Presence
If it can be established that no other person other than the offender was in control, driving, or observing the car, it is not a case of carjacking. You can still be convicted of car theft which carries a much more lenient penalty.
If the owner of the car willingly allowed you to use and drive your car, it is not a case of carjacking. Even if you have extended the time of possession of the car in your hands, the original consent still counts and you cannot be convicted of carjacking.
· No Fear or Force
Carjacking cannot take place without the use of force. If you take the car when nobody is around, it does not count as ‘use of force or fear'.
Call an Experienced California Carjacking Defense Lawyer
For years, the Kann Law Group has served our clients with strong legal representation at the most troubling time of their lives. The criminal justice system can sometimes be intimidating. However, you can count on our team of proficient yet sympathetic attorneys to stand beside you and help you fight for your rights. Give us a call at 888-744-7730, or use our online contact form, and let us start planning your defense today.