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Carjacking is regarded as a serious crime. The seriousness of the crime and the penalties attached can, however, be compounded based on the factors of the illegal activities and in what state such a crime has been perpetrated. Taking into consideration that carjacking can lead to potential injuries affecting the victim which can be severe, the penalties are set to be pretty high. In most cases of carjacking, there is always the use of a significant amount of threat and violence which is aimed at intimidating the victim into giving up their cars. If you have been involved in such cases as this, it is best to seek the legal help of a Los Angeles theft attorney.

Penal Code 215 PC (California’s Carjacking law), makes it a serious offense for a car to be taken from another person by any means which involves the use of force and/or fear. The mention of force or fear in the carjacking law makes provision for the use of physical force upon the alleged victim or use of threats to inflict pain and physical harm.

Carjacking laws protect both the drivers and passengers of the car and it does not matter whether the victim is the owner of the car or not. If a person uses force or fear to take control of another’s car, then such a person may be convicted of the charge.

Carjacking Explained

Most cases of carjacking take the form of a robbery. Here, the perpetrator employs a weapon as a form of intimidation or threat to the safety and life of the driver and passengers, forcing a victim to abandon their car. According to the United States, as provided by the Justice Department, carjacking is the actual or attempted theft of a vehicle by an unknown criminal perpetrator. A regular perpetrator of such a crime as this will make use of a gun and other weapons which are aimed at intimidating the victim into abandoning their cars. In some cases, carjacking may involve serious bodily injury or death, especially if there was an altercation between the victim and the perpetrator or other complicated cases.

In order to convict a person of the crime of carjacking, the prosecuting counsel must be able to establish that:

–         The victim was in possession of the car

–         The car was taken from the victim’s possession in his or her presence

–         The car was taken from the victim against his or her wishes using force or fear,

–         The car was taken with the intent to deprive the victim of the car, whether permanently or temporarily.

Possession and Immediate Presence as Factors for Carjacking

To establish a carjacking case, there has to be proof that the car was in possession of the victim who was dispossessed, also, the car must have been taken from the immediate presence of such a victim without consent. In such a case like this, chances are high that the criminal must have approached such a victim armed with a weapon which can be in the form of a gun, crowbar, blunt instruments, knives, or blades. These weapons are aimed to create fear in the victim, making them abandon their vehicles thus getting disposed of the vehicle, against their will, and in their presence. The case is further established when such a car is taken away from the victim, depriving them of access to the vehicle whether temporarily or permanently, depending on the duration.

The Similarity to Other Crimes

California´s Carjacking Law

Carjacking can be considered similar to other theft crimes as the main elements of theft crime is present. One of the major elements which liken this crime to theft crime is that it aims to dispossess the victim of a valuable asset, in this case, a car. Other than this, the person committing the crime is also armed with a weapon which can be used to threaten or indeed cause harm to the victim of the attack. Possession of weapons which are aimed at intimidating the victim connects carjacking to the incidence of robberies which transcends theft crimes. In the event such intimidation or threat leads to an injury, then, compensation can also be demanded the damages which have been suffered as a result of bodily harm.

A Brutal Attack?

Several cases of carjacking have been reported ending in a brutal attack on the victim causing great bodily harm to such a victim. The perpetrator may have employed the use of force or deadly weapons to dispossess the owner and victim of the vehicle during the attack. The amount of force applied during the attack can significantly impact the penalties associated with the alleged crime. The more harm inflicted on the victim, the greater the additional penalties associated. In other cases, other crimes may be associated with the original crime of carjacking. Such additional crimes could be in the form of abductions, kidnapping or even death of the victim. Additional crimes that occur with carjacking have the potential to significantly increase the penalties associated and the length of incarceration.

Mistaken Identity

Carjacking is a traumatizing experience that leaves the victim shaken. In such a shaken state, they may be unable to identify the actual perpetrator. While such a victim may be able to describe the physical characteristics of the perpetrator, sadly, this increases the chances that another person who was innocent of the crime may be selected as being responsible for the crime. If you have been misidentified and arrested for such crimes as this, it is recommended that you seek proper legal representation towards clearing your name of the alleged crimes.

Injuries and Death

Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney

Carjacking can often lead to injuries, especially when the perpetrator feels the victim is trying to put up some form of defense against getting carjacked. In most cases, serious bodily harm is only the start of such troubles both for the victim and perpetrator. In more violent cases, the perpetrator may be pushed to kill the victim to dispossess them of the car. In cases like this, such a perpetrator, once convicted will be faced with other grave consequences.

Penalties

In the state of California, carjacking is regarded as a felony offense and a convicted person may get up to nine years in state prison. However, additional penalties may be included to compound the sentence if:

–         The perpetrator injured the victim

–         The perpetrator used a gun

–         The perpetrator committed the crime for the benefit of a gang

–         The perpetrator kidnapped or abducted the victim during a carjacking

–         The perpetrator killed the victim.

By: Douglas Miranda

Los Angeles criminal attorney Douglas Miranda graduated with honors from California State University, Los Angeles, and earned his J.D. from Western State College of Law in Fullerton. Since his admission to practice law in California, he has received special training and certification in forensic science, jury selection, and sex crime defense. Mr. Miranda also helps clients terminate their probations early and expunge their criminal records.

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