What Is Carjacking?

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What Does Carjacking Mean?

Carjacking refers to a motor vehicle theft in which force or threats of force are used in order to accomplish the theft. Carjacking sometimes (but not always) involves a deadly weapon such as a gun or a knife.

In most carjacking cases, the driver is forced out of the vehicle. In some cases, the passengers may remain in the car, in which case kidnapping charges may also be involved. In other situations, the assailant may enter the passenger areas and order the driver to drive them to a certain destination.

What Are Some Penalties for Carjacking?

Carjacking is a very serious crime since it involves elements of theft, assault, and robbery. In most cases, carjacking will lead to felony charges, which are punished very seriously. Felony charges typically result in criminal fines as well as a prison sentence of at least one year. Serious cases of carjacking can result in longer sentences (such as 10-15 years).

Some factors may make the penalties even greater such as:

Penalties for carjacking may also be greater for repeat offenders.

Are There Variations of Carjacking Charges?

In many jurisdictions, the terms "carjacking" and "grand theft auto" may be used interchangeably. However, some states may use the term grand theft auto to describe any type of motor vehicle theft, whether force is used or not. Also, some states may use grand theft auto to describe only thefts which involve the sale or an intention to sell the vehicle or its parts. Thus, carjacking may also involve other penalties if there is an intention to sell the stolen vehicle.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with Carjacking Charges?

Handling carjacking charges generally requires the assistance of a qualified criminal defense lawyer. You may wish to hire an experienced attorney in your area if you need assistance with any criminal law matters. Your attorney can provide you with legal advice as well as representation during the course of the trial.

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Last Modified: 01-28-2015 11:53 AM PST

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