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Carjacking is a serious violent crime that occurs when a person takes possession of someone’s vehicle against his will using force or fear. California Penal Code 215 states that carjacking is a felony. You may be charged with additional crimes if a weapon was used in the commission of carjacking.

The conviction of carjacking includes severe punishments that could include a jail sentence and substantial fines. You may be charged with attempted carjacking when you tried or intended to take a vehicle that did not belong to you. If you were charged with carjacking, you are facing a serious felony charge that could result in severe penalties if convicted.

Carjacking Practice


In order to prove carjacking charges, the prosecutor must prove all of the elements of the crime set forth in the law. The elements of carjacking include:

  • The vehicle was taken from the immediate possession or presence of another. Immediate presence means that the victim was near the vehicle or within reach, observation, or control. 
  • The vehicle was taken against the will of the other person. The person did not give permission or consent to take or use the vehicle.
  • The vehicle was taken by force or by threat or fear. The other person was afraid of bodily harm if they did not comply with the carjacking.
  • You intended to take the vehicle permanently or temporarily. Whether you took a joyride or kept the vehicle, the charge is the same.
  • Carjacking requires that you take possession of the car and move it. You may have only moved the vehicle a short distance.

You can be convicted of carjacking only if the prosecution proves the elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. If you are found guilty of carjacking, you will face penalties of from one year to nine years in jail and fines of up to $10,000. Enhanced penalties may apply to carjacking charges in some circumstances.

Penalties increase when the victim suffered great bodily harm, when you used a gun in the commission of the crime, when the crime was gang-related, or when the victim died as a result of your actions. You could also face separate charges in addition to carjacking.

  • If you used a gun or other weapon during the carjacking, you will be charged with separate crimes that come with additional penalties.
  • Carjacking is subject to the California Three Strikes Law. This law adds penalties when you commit subsequent felony crimes. A second strike doubles the penalties and a third strike results in a sentence of 25 years to life in prison.
  • Someone must have been in or near the vehicle at the time of the crime. If you take a vehicle that is not attended, carjacking charges will not apply.

If you or a loved one is facing carjacking charges, call our firm today. We are here to listen. We are here to help, and we can help you fight for your future. Give us a call today.

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