Some examples of carjacking scenarios include a holding driver at gunpoint and stealing a car. A car could be stopped at a traffic light or on the side of the road, a person approaches with a gun, knife, or a weapon of some sort, and asks the driver to cease control of the vehicle to steal it. Another scenario would be taking getaway cars after a robbery, an armed robbery, or even a simple larceny. For example, a person is running away after stealing something, they see a car, somebody is in the car, and they try to use violence or threat of force to take that car with the intent of taking it permanently. That would be another scenario where a carjacking could possibly occur. Any of these situations could result in common Fairfax carjacking charges. It is in a person’s best interest to call a professional theft lawyer if they are encountering a situation involving the theft.
The difference between carjacking and auto theft depends on whether or not someone is in the car. If someone is not in the car, it is auto theft. Breaking into a parked car is auto theft. Carjacking, by definition, requires a use of force against the driver of the car, so there has to be somebody in possession or in control of that car for a carjacking to arise. If a car is parked on the side of the road or in a parking lot or near a building, broken into, and stolen, it is auto theft. A carjacking charge requires somebody to be driving or possessing that vehicle and that person is later assaulted or threatened by force.
Joyriding refers to the unauthorized use of a vehicle. It is like borrowing somebody’s car without their authorization to run an errand. That is what joyriding is. Carjacking is the highest level of theft crimes involving cars. It involves somebody in possession or in control of a vehicle and that person is later threatened or assaulted for the transfer or possession to occur to the assailant. In terms of seriousness, joyriding is a lower level type of car theft crime whereas carjacking is one of the more serious theft crimes.
The penalty for a carjacking is a jail sentence of not less than 15 years in prison and the possibility of life in prison. It is a serious felony that should not be taken lightly. The person faces the possibility of loss of liberty and loss of property through fines and possible restitution. A person would end up with a criminal record following this charge as well.
A person should consider hiring a lawyer. A lawyer would be able to tell them if it is the right type of car theft that should be charged in this incident, if there are any defenses to be made, if the elements can be proven, and if the elements can be proven by the government, what could be done in mitigation to prepare ahead of trial. It is highly important to contact a lawyer, especially with this type of charge.