ARRESTED? INVESTIGATED? ARRESTADO? INVESTIGADO?
Carjacking is a very serious crime in Florida as it involves the use of force to seize a vehicle without the consent of its owner. According to Florida statute 812.133, the crime of carjacking involves the ‘intentional and unlawful taking of another person’s motor vehicle through assault, force, threat or violence.’
The difference between carjacking and theft is that in the latter, the thief attempts to take the vehicle when there is no-one in it. A carjacker, by contrast, targets an occupied vehicle. In some carjacking cases, the original occupants are actually taken for a ride with the carjacker without their consent, usually because they are afraid to escape. More typically, the legal occupants or owners are forced out of the vehicle and the vehicle is then seized and taken away by the carjacker.
The crime of carjacking is a first degree felony with appropriate penalties. Penalties for this crime are more severe whenever a weapon like a gun or knife is used in the attempt to take the vehicle.
Penalties for convicted carjackers
If convicted of carjacking the minimum prison sentence is 21 months. Because the crime is a first degree felony it is assigned a Level 7 score, the offense can result in far more severe penalties. These include:
• up to 30 years in a state prison;
• up to $10,000 in fines;
• up to 30 years of probation.
How using a weapon can affect the sentence imposed
The use of a weapon in a carjacking raises the level of the offense from a Level 7 to a Level 9. A judge is bound to sentence the offender to at least 48 months in prison, but this could be extended to life depending on the circumstances.
The actual sentence is also affected by Florida’s 10/20/ life firearm enhancement legislation as described in statute 775.087(2)(a)(1). Mere possession of a firearm during a carjacking may lead to a minimum 10 year prison sentence. The discharge of a firearm during the crime may result in a minimum 20 year sentence, while & 25 year minimum prison sentence may be the fate of anyone accused of killing or seriously injuring someone during the crime.
Defenses to the crime of carjacking
Merely being present during a carjacking cannot implicate you in the crime, as long as you didn’t actually help to steal the vehicle or aid the main person involved.
The actual theft of the vehicle cannot be considered as carjacking if it was not intentional. In other words, if there was an altercation between two people and one of those people on the spur of the moment seized the keys to the vehicle and drove it away, this could not be considered to be carjacking. The removal of the vehicle may still mean that it could be considered a serious felony, that of “Grand Theft Auto.”
You will need effective legal help if arrested for carjacking
Carjacking is too serious a crime not to have effective legal representation. You cannot be convicted of carjacking unless prosecutors can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty. Don’t risk losing your liberty, job and future. Contact Miami criminal defense attorney, Albert Quirantes Esq., as soon as you can at 305-644-1800 today!