Carjacking involves taking a vehicle from another person with the use of force or fear. Individuals can be charged with carjacking for taking a vehicle from anyone, even someone who doesn’t own the vehicle. This criminal act is prosecuted under CA Penal Code Section 215: Carjacking in the state of California.
Contact the Simmrin Law Group to speak with an experienced California criminal defense lawyer about your case when charged with carjacking.
Review the Legal Definition of Carjacking in California
Carjacking is clearly defined under PC 215. Individuals in California may be convicted of carjacking if they:
- Take a vehicle from the immediate possession of someone else
- Use force or fear to take the vehicle
- Intend to deprive the other individual of the car
Carjacking only occurs if someone takes a vehicle against another person’s will. You should also be aware that individuals may carjack:
- The car’s owner
- The driver of the car
- A passenger in the car
Individuals may be charged with carjacking even if they only plan to temporarily keep the vehicle. The court system does not distinguish between carjacking for permanent possession of the car or temporary use of the vehicle.
Examples of Carjacking Cases in California
Carjacking can happen in a variety of ways. Here are just a few examples of carjacking in California:
Man A sees a nice vehicle at the pump of a gas station. The owner is inside. Man A decides to hop into the car, hotwire it, and drive away. He should not be charged with carjacking since he did not use force or fear to steal the vehicle. However, he could be charged with grand theft auto.
Man B waits outside a movie theater for a crowd to come out. He waits for a woman to approach a very nice automobile and then approaches the woman. Man B draws a knife and forces the woman to open the vehicle and give him the keys. He could be charged with carjacking.
Consider the Penalties for a Carjacking Conviction
The court system throughout California prosecutes carjacking as a felony. A basic carjacking conviction can lead to the following:
- Jail time: up to one year
- Prison time: up to nine years
- Fines: up to $10,000
Note that these penalties do not apply to each vehicle that is carjacked. Instead, these penalties are for each individual in the vehicle when it is carjacked. The court can also hand down sentencing enhancements in some carjacking cases. Individuals may face harsher penalties if:
- Someone is injured in a carjacking
- The carjacking is part of gang activity
- The carjacking involves the use of a gun
Additionally, individuals may face criminal charges under California Penal Code §209.5: Kidnapping During Carjacking. This is a unique criminal charge that moves beyond PC 215. The penalties will be the most severe if a carjacking victim loses their life.
Go Over Some Legal Defenses for Carjacking Accusations
You can get help standing up to carjacking accusations by contacting a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer. Working with a legal professional can allow you to build a strong defense. Depending on the facts surrounding your case, a lawyer can work to show:
You Didn’t Take a Vehicle with Force or Fear
Carjacking charges only apply if you directly take a vehicle from someone using force or fear. If you took a vehicle while no one else was around, you would not face carjacking charges.
However, you could still be charged under the:
- California Penal Code Section 487(d)(1): Grand Theft Auto
- California Vehicle Code Section 10851: Unlawful Taking of a Vehicle
You Had the Owner’s Consent to Take the Vehicle
Individuals should only be charged with carjacking if they take a vehicle against someone else’s will. If you were permitted to take a vehicle, you should not be convicted under PC 215. This mistake might happen if any of the following were true:
- You borrowed someone else’s car at their permission but were pulled over by a police officer
- You helped a friend pick up their vehicle from a repair shop, but they never informed anyone of such
- You borrowed your parent’s car to run an errand or go on a date
You Were Wrongfully Accused of Carjacking
Not all criminal charges in California are made legitimately. You could be accused of carjacking if someone misidentifies you as someone else. You might also be falsely accused intentionally in some cases.
A lawyer can help you stand up to these false accusations. It is important that you speak to a criminal defense lawyer immediately after being charged with carjacking so the defense process can begin as soon as possible.
Contact a Criminal Defense Lawyer About Carjacking Charges
A conviction under CA Penal Code Section 215: Carjacking can seriously impact your life. Make sure you take this accusation seriously by contacting the Simmrin Law Group’s criminal defense lawyers today. Our legal team can provide you with a free initial case evaluation.
Start constructing a defense by calling our office or filling out our online contact form. A California criminal defense lawyer near me is waiting to review your case, fight the charges against you, and ensure that your rights are protected throughout the process.