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What Happens if I’m Arrested for Carjacking in California?

Crime scene tape against a backdrop of police lights and a car accident scene.

If you have been arrested for carjacking in California, then you are likely facing a daunting future. As a serious crime with potentially dire consequences, it is important to understand the legal implications and ramifications of your situation.

In this comprehensive guide, we cover all aspects of this common charge from beginning to end -- from the initial arrest through dealing with possible sentencing -- so that any potential defendant can be as informed as possible. We will provide key insights into how California laws may apply in your case and walk you step-by-step through what could happen next along the way.

What Are the Legal Implications of a Carjacking Charge in California?

Carjacking is a serious crime that can result in criminal charges and steep penalties in California. It is defined as the forcible taking of a vehicle from another person with the intent to deprive them of their car, truck, or other motor vehicle permanently or temporarily. The carjacker may use force or threats, such as brandishing a weapon, to intimidate the victim and take possession of the car.

Carjacking may be charged as a misdemeanor or felony offense, depending on the circumstances involved. In some cases, it may even be classified as an aggravated offense, which carries much harsher penalties than regular theft or robbery offenses. When convicted, one could face jail time, fines, probation or community service, and loss of driving privileges. A conviction may also lead to increased insurance rates and difficulty obtaining future loans and housing.

In California it is illegal to carry any weapon when attempting to steal a vehicle. This includes objects such as tire irons that can be used as weapons against victims who resist carjacking attempts. Furthermore, individuals who are caught with weapons during an attempted carjacking could face additional charges for being armed with a deadly weapon while committing a violent felony.

People must also be aware that simply being present during an attempted carjacking can lead to criminal liability. However, there are certain defenses available in this situation if the individual was unaware of what was going on at the time.

Possible Penalties for a Carjacking Conviction in California

If you are convicted of carjacking in California, you face severe penalties. The crime is a felony, and you may be sentenced to up to nine years in state prison. In addition, the court may order you to pay restitution to the victim or victims of the carjacking. If someone was injured during the carjacking, you may also be ordered to pay for their medical expenses.

The penalties for carjacking are so severe because the crime is considered a violent felony. This means that it is classified as a serious offense that carries a significant risk of harm to others. Carjacking is also considered a strike offense under California's three strikes law. This means that if you are convicted of carjacking, you will receive a longer prison sentence if you have any prior convictions for serious or violent felonies on your record.

If you have been charged with carjacking, it is important to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can review the facts of your case and help you build a strong defense against the charges.

To speak with our experienced carjacking defense lawyers at Appel & Morse for free about your situation today, call us at (805) 467-6060 or contact us online.

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