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Los Angeles Carjacking Lawyers

June 22, 2016 Personal Injury

Los Angeles Carjacking Lawyers

There are millions of cars in the Los Angeles area and, as a result, incidences of carjacking occur frequently. As opposed to typical car theft, carjacking is a unique criminal offense that occurs when a someone takes a car from another person while that car is occupied.

However, there are some other elements that must be present in order for a carjacking charge to be filed. If a person is convicted of this offense, they may be in for some serious legal punishments. Read on to learn everything that you need to know about the offense of carjacking.

Explaining The Crime of Carjacking

Section 215 of the California Penal Code provides the official definition for a carjacking offense. According to this law, carjacking occurs when one or more individuals:

  • Takes a vehicle which belongs to another person with the intent to permanently or temporarily deprive the owner of their vehicle
  • Takes that car with the use of force or fear
  • Takes that car while it is in possession of another person

It’s important to note that carjacking is distinct from standard auto theft. For example, breaking into an unoccupied vehicle and driving away is not considered carjacking. The car must be occupied and the occupant must face force or fear in order for a carjacking to occur.

Examples of Carjacking

Devon and Matt are walking down a busy street. They spot Alice driving her new BMW when she pulls up to park at the curb. Devon and Matt approach Alice, reach through her open window to grab her shirt and tell her to get out of the car. She complies and they hop in the car and drive away. Devon and Matt may be arrested and charged with carjacking.

The issue of intent is important in these cases. For example, the people who take the vehicle must have the intent to deprive the owner of their vehicle permanently or temporarily. For this reason, borrowing someone’s car or helping them to move it doesn’t qualify as carjacking.

Also, it is irrelevant whether or not the occupant of the car is that car’s owner. Whether the occupant of the vehicle is the owner, driver or passenger, using force or fear to take the car from them can be considered carjacking.

Legal Penalties

Carjacking is a serious offense in Los Angeles and throughout California. This crime is considered a felony offense. A person who is convicted of carjacking may be punished with:

  • Up to nine years in state prison
  • A fine of up to $10,000
  • A term of probation

In addition to these punishments, a carjacking conviction is considered a strike under California’s Three Strikes law. As a result, a person convicted of carjacking will be required to serve 85% of their term of incarceration before they can be considered for parole.

Legal Defenses

The use of force or fear is an important element of carjacking. For example, using threats or brandishing a weapon fulfills this requirement. However, a lack of force or fear may be used as a legal defense.

Our law firm can help you fight carjacking charges. We may argue that:

  • No weapons were used and threats were not issued
  • The alleged victim misidentified the carjacker
  • The alleged victim consented to their car being taken

While it’s tough to fight carjacking charges, it is very possible. Successfully defending against these charges may keep you out of prison and your rights intact.

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