Carjacking is basically a robbery or theft charge: stealing a car while someone else is using it or has active possession. Generally, it’s a case of forcing someone out of the driver’s seat and taking the wheel yourself. The other person doesn’t have to be the owner – or even in the vehicle. For instance, someone may be pumping gas or standing beside a car they were driving; if you get in the car and drive off, it’s carjacking.
The difference between it and Grand Theft Auto or joyriding is the use of violence or intimidation against someone to take the vehicle. The state automatically increases penalties for crimes that involve violence.
It’s very important to get with a lawyer as soon as possible when facing such serious charges. Call 407-644-2466 to speak with a skilled and aggressive attorney at the Rivas Law Firm.
Is Carjacking a Misdemeanor or Felony?
According to Florida Statute (812.133), carjacking is “the taking of a motor vehicle which may be the subject of larceny from the person or custody of another, with intent to either permanently or temporarily deprive the person or the owner of the motor vehicle, when in the course of the taking there is the use of force, violence, assault, or putting in fear.”
It a first-degree felony punishable by up to 30 years in prison, 30 years probation, and a fine up to $10,000. And the law comes down even harder when a weapon is involved. Defendants convicted of carjacking face a mandatory minimum of 21 months in prison. In addition, Florida’s 10/20/Life Firearm Enhancement law mandates minimum prison sentences for a carjacking involving a weapon:
• A minimum 10-year prison term if in possession of a firearm;
• A minimum 20-year prison term if the firearm was discharged; and
• A minimum 25-year prison term if someone is injured or killed by the firearm.
Depending on the circumstances, carjacking defendants may also face other charges such as assault or kidnapping.
Florida Carjacking Defense
An aggressive and experienced criminal defense attorney will start fighting carjacking charges in Florida with a thorough pre-file or pre-trial investigation. That’s why it’s important to get in touch with a good defense lawyer as soon as possible. Your lawyer will evaluate every element of the case against you to make sure that the police and prosecutors have followed the law. A good lawyer can challenge evidence collection, witness statements, crime lab results, and police procedures.
If the case is still in the investigation stage, your lawyer may be able to demonstrate that the prosecution has a weak case and stop them from filing charges. If you have been charged, your lawyer will fight to exclude evidence and make pre-trial motions with the goal of getting the case dismissed altogether.
Carjacking is a serious crime in Florida, and if you are charged with it, you could face significant penalties. However, there are a number of defenses that can be raised to carjacking charges, and with the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney, you may be able to avoid conviction.
Here are some of the most common defenses to carjacking charges in Florida:
- Lack of evidence: The prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed carjacking. If there is any doubt about your guilt, you should not be convicted. Your attorney can challenge the evidence against you, such as eyewitness testimony or physical evidence.
- Mistaken identity: If you were misidentified as the person who committed carjacking, you should not be convicted. Your attorney can investigate the case and present evidence to show that you were not the person who committed the crime.
- Entrapment: If law enforcement officers induced you to commit carjacking, you should not be convicted. Your attorney can investigate the case and show that you were not predisposed to commit carjacking and that you were only persuaded to do so by the officers.
- Self-defense: If you used force to take a car in self-defense, you should not be convicted of carjacking. Your attorney can argue that you were justified in using force to protect yourself or another person from harm.
It is important to note that these are just a few of the possible defenses to these charges in Florida. The specific facts of your case will determine whether any of these defenses are applicable.
If you are facing these serious charges, you’ll want the best carjacking defense lawyer available. Consider the skilled and aggressive Orlando Carjacking Defense Attorneys at the Rivas Law Firm. Call 407-644-2466 to speak with an attorney and begin a vigorous defense so you can deal with your legal challenges and get on with your life.