Carjacking is among the most serious offenses in California. A conviction can come with life imprisonment in some instances. And if you are lucky to get the most lenient sentence, you will have no option but to live with the consequences of a criminal record – difficulties securing a job and fewer options in finding housing.
Investing in a good defense increases the chances of getting acquitted or having the case dismissed altogether. A good outcome depends on the skills, experience, and aggressiveness of the Los Angeles criminal defense attorney.
Can I Be Convicted if the Right Arrest Procedure Wasn’t Followed?
Law enforcers in Los Angeles have a responsibility to follow the correct protocol for search and seizure. When you are arrested, the police ought to remind you of your right not to say a word, your right to contact an attorney and the consequences of anything you may speak to the officers.
Sometimes, the officers are caught up in the moment and forget to arrest you appropriately. The court can dismiss the evidence presented if you can prove that your Miranda rights were not read to you during the arrest. A Los Angeles carjacking lawyer can help you challenge unlawful practices related to your case.
Is Insufficient Evidence Enough to Escape a Conviction?
Just like in all other criminal proceedings, the evidence is critical to getting a suspect convicted for a grand theft charge. But that evidence has to be sufficient and convincing enough. Everything needs to add up, and there should be no missing links in the crime events.
A Los Angeles grand theft auto attorney can skillfully challenge the evidence presented by the prosecution. As a result, the jury will begin to have doubts and may dismiss the case. Examples include fingerprints missing from the crime scene, an inability to present the weapon allegedly used at the scene, or an airtight alibi that places you in another location when the crime took place.
What Does the Law Consider as Carjacking?
The circumstances surrounding the incident distinguishes carjacking from other vehicle crimes. All the elements must be met – if not, the suspect will only be convicted of the lesser offense; and not carjacking.
Immediate Presence of Another Person
The car needs to have been within the control, observation, or reach of another person. Thus, the victim could be the driver, a passenger, or someone outside the vehicle.
Taking a Vehicle Against the Victim’s Will
The car needs to have gotten to your possession without the consent of the owner or driver. If they handed it over out of fear, it is still against their will.
Fear or Force
Physical force needs to have been utilized in seizing the car. And out of fear of the harm that the force could cause, the victim surrendered the vehicle.
What are the Most Common Defenses Against Carjacking?
The most common kind of defense is where the legal team strives to prove that the circumstances did not meet the three critical elements of a carjacking crime. A Los Angeles grand theft auto lawyer is skilled in formulating a solid defense strategy.
Lack of Immediate Presence
If nobody was observing, controlling, or driving the car at the time of the crime, you could not be convicted of carjacking. Taking the car might have you convicted of car theft, whose penalty is less harsh.
If the car owner or driver willingly allowed you to take and use the vehicle, you cannot be convicted for carjacking. You may have extended the possession beyond the agreed time, but the original consent still holds.
Lack of Fear or Force
Carjacking cannot happen without force. For instance, the incident does not meet the requirement of ‘use of force or fear’ if you took the car while nobody was around.
What Do I Stand to Lose with a Weak Defense?
If your defense team is weak, unskilled, or inexperienced, there is a high chance that you will lose the case. A carjacking conviction in California attracts various penalties. Usually, one may serve a jail term of one year in a county jail or stay in state prison for nine, five, or three years. However, more years may be added to the original sentence in case of:
- Great Bodily Harm – If the victim sustained significant injuries, the judge might add six or three years to the initial sentence.
- Gang Enhancement – Your sentence might be prolonged if you were directed by or committed the crime in association with a criminal gang. Fifteen more years will be added to you if the association is proved.
- Gun Use – Displaying a gun adds you ten years, shooting adds you 20 years, and seriously injuring or killing someone with the gun can add you 25 more years in jail.
Are Convicts of Kidnapping During Carjacking Eligible for Parole?
The carjacking penalty can be elevated to life imprisonment if the prosecution proves that you also kidnapped someone. The great news is that you may be eligible for parole after serving the crime’s minimum sentence. For instance, if the crime imposes 15 years to life imprisonment, you can apply for parole after 15 years.
It is never that easy to get parole on kidnapping carjacking because the parole board holds the discretion. If they find it unfit to give you parole, you can remain in prison till death. But with an experienced criminal defense attorney in California, convicts don’t have to walk the journey towards finding parole alone.
Make the Right Legal Choices
You have several defense options as an accused person in California. Choosing the right ones can give your case the best possible outcomes. For instance, if you are genuinely innocent, the California attorney will simply use the alibi in your defense.
Combat the carjacking charges held against you with the help of a skilled criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles. Our grand theft auto lawyer in California can build a defense strategy to secure your freedom. Book a free consultation with us today.