Carjacking charges in California can result in numerous felony charges. Case in point: The carjacking/DUI chase in Yorba Linda California last week led to an arrest of a suspect that luckily did not seriously injure or kill another citizen during the chase http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2014/09/05/fullerton-police-in-pursuit-of-carjacking-suspect/ The crime of carjacking can often lead to additional charges including DUI, assault with a deadly weapon and felony murder if a person is killed during the commission of the felony. Often times carjacking charges will be in addition to charges for robbery. Carjacking is a serious felony charge in California but there are defenses to such charges and an experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to get such charges reduced and/or dismissed depending on the facts of each case.
The crime of carjacking defined under California Penal Law
Under California Penal Code section 215, a person may be found guilty of carjacking if the prosecutor can prove that a suspect takes a car from another by means of Force or Fear. In order to prove “force” the district attorney must prove that a suspect used actual force to take a car but such force need not entail any serious physical injury to another. If a prosecutor attempts to prove that “fear” was used they must prove that a suspect used the threat of imminent physical harm in order to take another car.
The taking of the car does not have to be permanent and can be for a very short amount of time. Moreover, the victim need not own the car that is taken and the victim may be the passenger or the driver. Many times a criminal defense lawyer can challenge the force or fear elements of a carjacking charge in an attempt to get the charges reduced to misdemeanor charge such as “joy riding” under California Vehicle Code section 10851(a). In order to be convicted of “joyriding”, the State of California must provide that a suspect” 1. Took or drove a vehicle; 2. The vehicle did not belong to the suspect and 3. The vehicle was taken or driven without the permission of another.
If a defense attorney can challenge that “force” or “fear” was used to take a vehicle, then the remaining elements would amount to a possible joyriding conviction which can significantly lower any potential sentence as a conviction for carjacking can carry a sentence of 9 years in a California state prison.
Carjacking charges leading to criminal allegations of robbery in CA
Often times charges of robbery may accompany a charge of carjacking although if it arises out of the same set of facts, a person usually should not be sentenced consecutively for both charges. In order to prove a person committed robbery in California, a prosecutor must produce evidence that shows:
- A person took property of another not belonging to him or her ;
- The property was taken from the other person’s immediate presence and possession;
- The property was taken against the other person’s will;
- The suspect/defendant used force or fear to take the other’s property or to prevent the person from resisting;
In addition, when the defendant along with using force or fear to take property, there must be proof of intent to deprive the owner of it permanently/[or] to remove it from the owner’s possession for so extended a period of time that the owner would be deprived of a major portion of the value or enjoyment of the property.
The intent to take property must be formed before or during the time a person uses force or fear. If intent is not formed until after using the force or fear, then no robbery is committed.
Felony charges in California for Robbery, Carjacking or any other violent crime can lead to a conviction a state prison time. There are many potential defenses a person may use to obtain a successful result in defending against such criminal prosecution. It is advisable that when arrested, a person should immediately consult with an experienced California Criminal Defense Lawyer to protect their rights and use all potential defenses to have charges reduced or dismissed.