When one has been charged with carjacking in California, the prosecution must prove the following to get a conviction:
- The defendant seized an automobile that did not belong to him or her;
- The owner, driver or passenger of the automobile was not in close proximity when it was taken by the defendant;
- The owner, driver or passenger of the automobile lacked the desire for the defendant to take it;
- The defendant used force or fear to take the vehicle from the owner, driver or passenger;
- And the defendant took the automobile so the owner, driver or passenger could no longer have the automobile for a period of time.
If law enforcement officials believe someone’s actions went against California’s Penal Code 215, that person will be charged with a felony. If convicted of a felony charge, a person could be sentenced to three to nine years in prison. In addition, someone could face an even more severe punishment if the alleged crime involved the use of a weapon. For example, under California Penal Code section 12022.53, someone who used a gun during the crime could spend an extra decade in prison. If that gun was fired, 20 more years could be added to one’s prison sentence. Furthermore, if the defendant is found guilty of firing that gun to hurt someone, a conviction could mean a life sentence in prison.
Carjacking Equals Robbery
In accordance with California Penal Code 215, an individual who takes another individual’s automobile could be charged with carjacking and robbery. However, that individual will not be punished for two separate offenses. If one is found guilty of robbery, opposed to the carjacking, it means he or she took the automobile specifically to deprive the owner, driver or passenger from having that automobile permanently. The person must have intended to never return the automobile to be convicted in California of robbery. To be convicted of carjacking, and not robbery, the prosecution just has to convince the court the defendant wanted to take the automobile to use for a set amount of time. This means a person who takes an automobile on a “joy ride” could, in fact, be convicted of carjacking.
Defending Against California Penal Code 215
If you or a loved one have been charged with carjacking in California, under Penal Code 215, hiring a skilled defense attorney is advisable. A defense attorney can draw up a defense for the alleged carjacking. Perhaps, the carjacking was done without using fear or force. If fear or force were not used, then the defendant can’t be convicted of a crime. Maybe, you or a loved one were charged but actually had consent to use the automobile. This would not be considered a carjacking and the charge should then be dropped. Even still, there is a possibility that the person charged was wrongly identified as the person who took the automobile in question. This would be known as the mistaken identity defense. For information on defending against carjacking in California, contact my office for a free consultation today!