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Carjacking, as outlined by Florida Statute 812.133, is the intentionally taking of another person’s vehicle through the use of force or fear. Carjacking, both with and without a firearm or deadly weapon, is a first degree felony punishable by up to 30 years of imprisonment, 30 years of probation, and a fine of $10,000.

What is Carjacking?

Carjacking is a first degree felony that occurs when the accused intentionally deprives the victim, permanently or temporarily, of the victim’s right, benefit, or use of a motor vehicle. While depriving the victim of their right to the vehicle, the victim must currently be in the custody of the vehicle, and the accused must use force, violence, assault, or fear while taking the vehicle. The element of force is what makes Carjacking different from Grand Theft of a Motor Vehicle. In theft cases, force or fear is not a necessary component to prove the charge. However, once those elements are introduced, the charge is elevated to Carjacking and faces harsher penalties.

Proving Carjacking

In order to be convicted of carjacking, the State must prove the crime occurred beyond a reasonable doubt. They must prove (1) that the motor vehicle was in the custody of the victim; (2) that force, violence, assault, or putting in fear was used in the course of the taking; and (3) that the taking was done with the intent to either temporarily or permanently deprive the victim of his or her right or benefit of the vehicle. It is important to remember that the State has to prove all three elements, not just one or two of them. Put another way, if the State is able to prove element (1) – that the motor vehicle was in the custody of the victim – and element (3) – that the vehicle was done with the intent to deprive the victim of his or her right to the vehicle – but is unable to prove element (2) – that the taking was done with force or fear – then they have not proven the crime of Carjacking.

For many crimes, the common definition of a word does not exactly match the legal definition of a word. An example of this is the word “force” as used in the statute for carjacking. When the word “force” is used in everyday conversation, you might think of physically making a person do something, or threatening their safety. While these examples would count as force for Carjacking, force more specifically means force, violence, or assault that “overcomes the resistance of the victim or by putting in the victim in fear so that the victim does not resist” (Florida Jury Instructions Section 15.2). The resistance does not need to be to any particular extent, nor does it have to be any physical resistance; however, unless prevented by fear, in order to prove Carjacking, the State must prove that the accused used force, violence, or assault that was enough to overcome the victim’s resistance.

The resistance requirement, however, does not apply if the accused gives the victim any substance which renders the victim unconscious. In cases where this fact applies, the crime is still considered Carjacking, not Grand Theft of a Motor Vehicle.

Why Thompson Law, P.A.

Carjacking is enhanceable if the person who is alleged to have committed the crime is found to be carrying a weapon or a firearm. The word “enhanceable” means that a person who is alleged to have committed Carjacking while carrying a weapon or firearm could face higher jail time, greater fines, or a minimum mandatory sentence. Thompson Law, PA. offers our attorney’s expertise in the area of criminal law and will sit down and discuss your case for free in an initial case consultation. Attorney Matt Thompson has over a decade of experience in the legal field. Formerly a state prosecutor, Matt understands the importance of negotiating with the State to create the best case scenario for his clients. As a defense attorney, Matt uses his extensive knowledge of the law to navigate his client’s case, create the arguments he will use in court, and provide you with a high quality defense. If you or someone you know if faced with a first degree felony such as Carjacking, time is of the essence: call Thompson Law today to set up a free case evaluation – (386) 463-4LAW (4529), or call toll free (877) 934-4LAW (4529).

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