Carjacking is defined as seizing a motor vehicle from someone by force or fear, according to California Penal Code 215 PC. Using “force or fear” under this statute entails inflicting physical force or threatening to harm the victim. PC 215 can be charged if the victim is the driver or a passenger in the car, and they do not have to be the owner.
Is Carjacking Considered a Violent Crime in California?
In California, carjacking is considered a felony. If you are convicted of carjacking, you might face a sentence of three, five, or nine years in state prison, and you would have to serve 85 percent of your sentence. Furthermore, under California’s Three Strike Laws, carjacking is a Strike offense as a serious and violent felony, and every following felony conviction would be doubled.
Carjacking is considered a crime of moral turpitude, and anyone in the United States on temporary resident status, as well as anyone with a professional license, will face urgent deportation procedures.
If you are convicted of this felony, the DMV will place severe restrictions on your license.
What Is The Penalty For a PC 215 Carjacking Conviction in California?
Penalties for PC 215 carjacking conviction in California carries a:
- Three (3), five (5), or nice (9) year sentence without enhancements, and/or
- Compensation to each victim and fines of up to $10,000.
Carjacking Penalty Enhancements
A carjacking conviction carries harsh penalties and enhancements, as well as a “strike” under California’s three-strikes rule, which can be increased if the defendant:
- used a weapon;
- injured the victim; and/or
- committed the crime to aid street gang
Penal Code 186.22 Gang Enhancement
Under Penal Code 186.22 gang enhancement a defendant can be prosecuted under this section if they either participate in a gang while furthering a felony or carry out a crime for the benefit of a gang. As such, a 15 year to life enhancement can be applied if the theft was for the benefit of a criminal street gang.
Gun Enhancement Penal Code 12022.53
If a firearm was used during the commission of the carjacking 10 years can be added to the sentence. Although per SB620, such enhancement is left to the judge’s discretion.
Other Penalty Enhancements
In the event, someone was harmed during the commission of the carjacking, three (3) to six (6) years may be added to a defendant’s sentence. If a gun was discharged during the commission of the carjacking a 20-year sentence can be added.
What is the Carjacking Problem in California?
Since every vehicle theft is a severe issue for the owner, the stakes are significantly higher when the owner is still in the vehicle when the thief acts. Carjacking is defined as the act of depriving the owner of the vehicle while they are still in or near it. However, ejecting the owner is precisely the carjacking issue. Force, the fear of force, or some other form of duress or coercion is required to eject or resist the owner.
Owners do not just hand over the keys to their vehicles to criminals. Carjacking is a separate felony in part because it violates the owner’s safety and autonomy, as well as the potential of significant injury or worse.
Other carjacking related crimes include:
- Grand Theft Auto Penal Code 487(d)(1) PC
- Joyriding under Vehicle Code 10851 VC
Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney
If you or a loved one has been charged with carjacking under Penal Code 215 PC, we invite you to contact our Los Angeles criminal defense attorney today for a free consultation.