Carjacking is the crime of taking a vehicle from another person through force or fear. In Compton, Carjacking is treated as one of the most serious offenses under the California Penal Code. Carjacking is always charged as a felony in Compton California, and a conviction could send you to prison for years.
With our freedom on the line, it is important to hire an experienced Compton criminal defense attorney to be your advocate. A conviction in Compton is NOT a foregone conclusion, and your attorney may be able to negotiate the charges down to a lesser offense or even have the charges dropped entirely. If you or a loved one has been charged with carjacking in Compton or anywhere in L.A. County, contact William S. Kroger Attorney at Law to discuss your options.
Carjacking Laws in Compton, California
According to California Penal Code § 215, carjacking is:
"the felonious taking of a motor vehicle in the possession of another, from his or her person or immediate presence, or from the person or immediate presence of a passenger of the motor vehicle, against his or her will and with the intent to either permanently or temporarily deprive the person in possession of the motor vehicle of his or her possession, accomplished by means of force or fear."
In other words, carjacking is:
- The unlawful taking of a car,
- From the immediate presence of another person,
- Through force or fear.
If all of the elements above are not met, carjacking has not been committed. It should be noted that individual elements of the crime of carjacking are lesser offenses. For example, if you unlawfully take a car that isn't in the presence of another person you aren't guilty of carjacking. Instead, you will likely be charged with theft.
Immediate Presence of Another Person
Merely taking a car that belongs to another person alone doesn't rise to the level of carjacking. To obtain a conviction for carjacking, the prosecutor must show that the car was in the possession and immediate presence of another person.
While the word carjacking evokes images of a victim being pulled from a vehicle, California law defines carjacking more broadly. A car is in the immediate presence of another person if it is within their reach, observation, or control so that they could otherwise maintain possession of the vehicle.
This means that a carjacking victim can be a passenger, driver, or even outside of the vehicle at the time the crime occurs.
Taking a Car Against Their Will
Carjacking requires the taking of the vehicle to be against the will of the victim. In other words, if the alleged victim consents to you taking the car you are not guilty of carjacking. Keep in mind that consent must be willful; a person handing over their car willingly out of fear is still against their will.
Force or Fear
Finally, carjacking requires the use of force or fear to take the car. Force is described as an act of physical force, while fear is the fear of the consequences from the use of physical force.
Penalties for Carjacking in Compton, California
The baseline penalty for carjacking under California law is either:
- One year in county jail, or
- Three, five, or nine years in California state prison.
These penalties are per victim and can, therefore, accumulate depending on the circumstances. What's more, a conviction carries a maximum fine of $10,000. You may also face additional penalties if any of the following enhancements were present at the time the carjacking was committed.
Great Bodily Harm
According to California Penal Code § 12022.7, your sentence will be enhanced if the carjacking resulted in great bodily harm to the victim. Great bodily harm is a substantial physical injury. A great bodily harm enhancement will add either three or six years consecutively to your original sentence.
If the carjacking was undertaken “for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with any criminal street gang,” you will be subject to California's gang enhancement. Under California Penal Code § 186.22, you will face an additional 15 years to life in prison on top of your standard sentence for carjacking.
“Use a Gun and You're Done” Law
California Penal Code § 12022.53 is known as the “Use a Gun and You're Done” law. If you brandish a gun during the carjacking, you will face an additional 10 years in prison to be served consecutively with your original sentence. That enhancement goes up to 20 years if you fire the gun, and 25-years-to-life if you kill or seriously injure a person during the carjacking.
Compton Carjacking Defense Strategies
There are valid defenses to every crime, and carjacking is no exception. Two of the most common defenses raised in carjacking cases involve the lack of force or fear and consent from the car owner.
Lack of Force or Fear
One of the most common defenses in a carjacking case is that you did not use force or fear to acquire the car. For example, if you simply took the vehicle while no one was present you did not meet the requirement of using force or fear to acquire the vehicle. Keep in mind, in that situation you would still face serious criminal charges even if they are lesser offenses.
Simply put, you can't carjack a person who voluntarily let you use their vehicle. Even if you continue to keep the car longer than originally agreed, the important factor is that you had consent at the time you took the car. Again, while this defense absolves you of carjacking, you will still likely be on the hook for other crimes.
Hiring the Right Compton Criminal Defense Attorney
If you or a loved one have been charged with carjacking in L.A. County, your future and freedom may hinge on finding the right criminal defense attorney. William S. Kroger is one of the top criminal defense attorneys in L.A. County and has the record of success to show for it. To discuss the merits of your case, contact William S. Kroger Attorney at Law for your free consultation.