May 13, 2015
A man in Orange County recently carjacked three women and then caused a car accident involving several vehicles. He fled to a parking lot after stealing from a Gap store, and then carjacked an SUV, driving off with the three women that were inside. A deputy noticed the commotion and followed the vehicle until the driver crashed with four other vehicles, injuring six people. At that point, the suspect got out of the vehicle and fled on foot. Authorities are searching for the man.
Carjacking is a violent crime, and is a similar crime to robbery. Robbery is committed when a person steals something from the person or physical possession of another. The difference between robbery and carjacking is that for carjacking, the stolen item must be a motor vehicle. Under Florida law, a carjacking is committed when:
- A person uses force, violence, assault, or threats,
- To take a motor vehicle from another, while the vehicle is occupied,
- Intending to temporarily or permanently deprive the person of the motor vehicle.
To convict, the prosecution must prove each of these elements beyond a reasonable doubt.
A conviction for carjacking has very serious consequences. Carjacking is a first degree felony, with a level 7 offense severity ranking. It is punishable by any combination of:
- Imprisonment of up to 30 years,
- Probation of up to 30 years, and
- A fine of up to $10,000.
A judge must give a minimum prison sentence of 21 months to those convicted of carjacking.
If the offender carries a gun or deadly weapon while committing the offense, the crime is more serious. Armed carjacking is a first degree felony, level 9 offense, and is punishable by up to life in prison. If a person is convicted of armed carjacking, the judge must give a minimum sentence of 48 months in prison.
Armed carjacking offenders who use a firearm are also subject to Florida’s 10-20-Life statute. The statute provides for increased sentences for those who use a firearm to commit a forcible felony, such as carjacking. If a person convicted of carjacking used a firearm in the commission of the crime, the statute provides minimum sentences:
- Minimum 10 years incarceration if the offender was in possession of a firearm at the time of the commission of the crime,
- Minimum 20-year prison term if the firearm was fired during the commission of the crime, or
- Minimum 25 years incarceration if someone was injured or was killed by the firearm.
Two of the most common defenses to carjacking are misidentification and false accusation. Misidentification means that the accused was mistakenly identified, instead of the real perpetrator, as the person who committed the crime. False accusation happens when someone falsely claims that the accused has committed a carjacking.
Carjacking is a serious offense, and the advice of an experienced attorney can help you work to reduce your charge or sentence. If you have been arrested for or charged with carjacking, please contact West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney William Wallshein for a free initial consultation.