Carjacking involves using force or fear to take a vehicle from someone's possession. The penalties for carjacking are incredibly severe and can include a significant prison sentence. If an individual is in the car at the time and is kidnapped during the carjacking, the penalty in California is life in prison. Carjacking is a crime which receives a lot of media attention and thus creates a heavy pressure on law enforcement agencies. Arrest and prosecution are aggressively pursued and if charged, your life can be forever altered. If faced with this
felony charge, a criminal attorney may be able to help protect you from conviction. This is especially important in this state, where the
three strikes law applies.
Elements of Proving a Car Theft Case
There are four separate elements that must be proven to have a defendant convicted of carjacking. The first is that the car was either in the possession of the alleged victim or within their immediate presence. This may not mean that the person was in the car when the carjacking started. For example, the car could have been parked but should the defendant jumped into the vehicle, it could go from grand theft auto to carjacking.
The second element is proving that the car was taken against the will of the alleged victim. To prove this, it means that the person did not consent to the taking of the vehicle and was not acting out of fear. For example, if the defendant threatened the victim with injury and they told them to take the car, they were not consenting out of their own free will, but rather acting out of fear.
The third element is proving that the defendant either used force or the element of fear during the commission of the crime. This could be through the use of a weapon, such as drawing a gun to urge a victim out of the vehicle, or it could be through the use of threats. For example, should the defendant be found guilty of threatening the family of the alleged victim, it could be considered using fear to commit the crime.
The fourth and final element is that the defendant had the intention to deprive the victim of their possession. This does not need to be a permanent deprivation. Even taking a vehicle for a "joy ride," should it meet all of the above elements could be deemed carjacking, regardless of whether the deprivation was going to be permanently or temporarily. For example, using force to "borrow" a car could be deemed carjacking.
Call a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer today!
At Martinian & Associates, we are very familiar with carjacking cases. We will review your specific case in detail to identify points that may be used in your defense. An example of what may be looked into is whether the definition of carjacking can actually be applied in your case. A defendant must have had the intent to take the vehicle before or during the use of force or fear. If that intent was not formed until after force or fear was applied, a carjacking charge is not valid.
Additionally, the victim must have experienced fear relating to the harm of property or bodily harm of themselves, their family or those present with them during the occurrence. This is another factor that can be reviewed as to its specific validity. Our preparation of your defense is thorough and strategic. Your case may even be closed before going to court. Where it is not, our courtroom skills will be used to fight for you as we pursue the best possible outcome for your case.