Carjacking is a serious crime with severe consequences. Carjacking involves using violent force, or the threat of violence in order to steal a car. In that sense, carjacking is a combination of theft and a violent crime. The use of a firearm in the crime of carjacking can elevate the charges to the felony level and is one of many aggravating factors impacting carjacking offenses in West Palm Beach. Aggravating factors like use of a weapon during a carjacking can result in a loss of civil liberties, an onslaught of social stigma, and the loss of housing and employment opportunities. With so much at stake, it is imperative that you call an experienced carjacking lawyer to defend your case.
Differences Between Car Theft and Carjacking
If a person parks their car in their driveway or a parking lot and returns later to find it gone, that is car theft. The difference in carjacking is that someone would have to be in the car and the car would be visibly taken from that person by violence, force, assault or imminent fear of same. The difference is that for the carjacking, the person is in the car or about to get in the car. With carjacking, a person must be in or around the vehicle and witness the taking of the vehicle and suffer some degree of force, violence, assault, or threat of those.
Difference Between Carjacking and Joyriding
Carjacking involves the taking of a car with force. Joyriding can be theft depending on the circumstances of the case. For example, if a teen with no license finds the keys to their parents’ car while the parents are away and goes for a ride, this is not theft, but joyriding. If the same teen knows how to hotwire and takes a neighbor’s car, that is theft. If someone
If the same teen knows how to hotwire and takes a neighbor’s car, that is theft. If someone joy rides in someone else’s car without their knowledge or permission and over the car is over $100,000, this could be a first-degree theft. Joyriding in someone’s very inexpensive old car without their knowledge or permission or implied knowledge or permission could be a third-degree felony.
If the situation involves someone the person knows taking, for example, the family car, this would be a misdemeanor called the unauthorized use of a motor vehicle. This is not a case of theft. It is a situation of someone trusting, for example, a relative, by leaving the keys to the car in the house but not permitting them to drive the car. Another example is valet parking. If a valet takes an extra lap around the block in someone’s car, that is not theft. They are not really depriving the person of use of the car.
If a valet takes a two or three-hour ride around town, that is more likely to be a theft. Carjacking is a theft of an occupied vehicle with the use of force to take it. Joyriding is also the taking of a motor vehicle, but there is normally no force used, and the level of the crime charged would depend on the level of intent. Was the taking temporary or permanent, and did the person have permission or implied permission to take the vehicle? These are important questions for an attorney to investigate.
Impact of Prior Criminal Convictions on a Case
Life in prison for an armed carjacking or 25 years in prison for a non-armed carjacking are maximum punishments. There are minimum punishments as well, and the minimum punishment would depend upon a person’s criminal record. In Florida, courts use a sentencing guidelines score sheet, which is a mathematical computation that takes a person’s record into account.
The sentence will revolve around a point system, and the more points a person has, the longer a judge is supposed to put them in state prison. There is a formula to correlate points into months in prison. If a person has a prior offense, they are going to have more points in their guideline score sheet calculated against them. If a person has no prior offenses, they are going to have fewer points. That is where a prior record will affect the person’s sentence directly.
Impact of Severity of Prior Conviction on Ongoing Case
The quality or severity of a prior conviction is another one of the aggravating factors impacting carjacking offenses in West Palm Beach. Florida has eight listed levels of offenses that are used in the score sheet, depending on the type of crime the person has been convicted of in the past.
A carjacking is a high-level offense, a first-degree felony punishable by life in prison, so that will have many more points on the score sheet than a misdemeanor like a DUI or possession of marijuana. A prior violence offense will score higher than a non-violent offense.
Contacting an Attorney
Carjacking offenses are penalized heavily enough, but there are other factors that can worsen those penalties. Aggravating factors impacting carjacking offenses in West Palm Beach can elevate a basic carjacking charge to a felony offense. Get in touch with a skilled attorney who will be able to craft a defense that addresses these aggravating factors. A thorough lawyer will be able to look at the facts of your case, identify any potentially mitigating factors, and use them to strengthen your case.