Carjacking is different than other crimes involving breaking into or stealing a vehicle in that it involves directly taking the vehicle from someone else via the use of force. This means that rather than facing theft or burglary charges for taking the vehicle or items inside of it, you can instead face carjacking and robbery charges. Although you may be charged with both offenses, you cannot be sentenced for both in relation to the same crime. While most theft charges can be charged as misdemeanors, both carjacking and robbery are always felonies, which is why anyone charged with carjacking needs to immediately contact a skilled Vista defense lawyer.
Sentencing for these crimes can vary greatly depending on the prosecutor’s recommendations to the court. If the prosecutor recommends that you be charged with first degree robbery or carjacking, you could face up to nine years in prison and if you are accused of using a weapon or harming the victim, you could face an additional sentence of up to twenty years behind bars. Fortunately, skilled Vista criminal defense lawyers may be able to negotiate a plea bargain to where you will only fact second degree robbery charges, which carries the much lighter sentence of up to five years in prison. If you have any previous strikes on your record, these penalties could be doubled. Both car jacking and robbery are strikes and violent felonies, so if you are sentenced to state prison you must serve 85% of your sentence on these charges before becoming eligible for parole.
Of course, in order for you to be convicted of carjacking, the prosecution must be able to prove a number of key elements. They must be able to show that you took a vehicle that did not belong to you from the victim by use of force or fear. While this sounds fairly straight forward, the fact that the prosecution must be able to show that the victim was actually and reasonably in fear of a legitimate harm to themselves, loved ones or their property due to your conduct can sometimes make a conviction difficult, particularly if you have the aid of a skilled Vista criminal defense attorney on your side. If your Vista defense lawyers convince the court that the victim had no reason to believe a threat of harm existed or that the victim was not present at the time of the crime, then you can only be charged with theft, not robbery or carjacking.
With the right Vista defense attorneys on your side, you may be able to have the charges against you reduced or dropped before the case goes to trial. If the case does move forward, only a top San Diego criminal lawyer will be able to help you fight the charges in order to obtain minimal sentencing or a not guilty verdict.
If you have been charged with carjacking, please call (760) 643-4050 to schedule a free initial consultation with skilled Vista defense attorney Peter M. Liss.
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