Like robbery, carjacking is a criminal offense that can lead to life in prison if certain elements are met. Robbery covers many of the same elements as carjacking in Florida; the main difference is that carjacking is the taking of a motor vehicle specifically through force, violence, assault, or threats. As a victim, a carjacking can be a life-threatening encounter, especially when a deadly weapon is used.
How Prevalent is Carjacking in the United States?
In 2018, the Insurance Information Institute reports that the U.S. lost about $6 billion to motor vehicle theft, with 748,841 vehicles stolen. These days, it is getting harder for thieves to activate cars that are not already running, due to improved security features in higher-end cars. Thus, more carjacking attempts are being made. There are steps you can take to protect yourself when you are in your vehicle.
Ways to Prevent and Survive a Carjacking Incident
If a carjacker attempts to steal your car, give up your car. It may be incredibly upsetting to be approached by someone trying to steal your car right from under you, but oftentimes the safest course of action is to give in. If you have a child in the backseat, let the offender know and take your child with you. A car can be replaced, your and your child’s lives however, cannot.
Be vigilant and beware of sneaky tricks. Some criminals attempt to lure drivers into providing the perfect opportunity for them to take their vehicles. One trick is called the bumper tap. A criminal will tap your car’s bumper so you will step out to inspect the damage. At this point, a group of carjackers may be waiting to pounce on you so that one can make off with your car. According to a retired NYPD detective sergeant, you should drive to the nearest police station before you step out.
In addition to the bumper tap, carjackers may initiate the $20 bill trick. If you find money on your windshield, it may be an attempt to get the driver to step out of the car after the engine has been ignited. In the time it takes you to retrieve the money, the thieves can hop inside your car and attempt to make off with it. At this point, many people hoping to stop them get run over. If this happens, return to tip 1 and let the carjacker take the car. The best you can do at this point is to file a police report.
Avoid a carjacking attempt by keeping your car in “Drive” at the ATM. Rather than put your car in park, keeping your foot on the brake at the ATM can enable a quick escape should carjackers attempt to take your vehicle while you are taking out cash. Be sure to drive up as close to the ATM machine as possible.
Do you face a felony charge for carjacking in West Palm Beach?
Were you mistaken for a carjacker or possibly linked to a carjacking? Carjacking is a first-degree felony offense for which you may face mandatory minimum sentencing and is usually one of multiple severe charges in a criminal case. The penalties you might face if you are convicted vary by whether you are accused of having used a weapon. They might include:
- A prison sentence of up to 30 years or
- A term of probation of up to 30 years, and/or
- A fine of up to $10,000 plus court fees.
Additionally, person convicted of armed carjacking could face a life sentence. If a carjacking victim was killed during the commission of the crime, defendants could also face the death penalty. Kidnapping is a common criminal charge associated with carjacking and is also considered a violent, first-degree felony offense. Penalties for kidnapping include:
- Up to 20 years of prison or probation, and/or
- Fines of up to $10,000 plus court fees.
You Have the Right to a Defense Attorney. Call The Law Office of Gabriel & Gabriel
If you are facing a carjacking charge in West Palm Beach, you need strong representation. Attorney Brian Gabriel has dedicated more than 30 years of his life to fighting criminal charges and has extensive experience fighting felony charges, in particular. The sooner you can get his help, the better the outcome of your case can be.
At The Law Office of Gabriel & Gabriel, we aim to navigate justice for the criminally accused. You can expect thorough and personalized service from Brian Gabriel, and that Brian will dedicate the time and resources your case deserves. Call 561-622-5575 for a free consultation with Mr. Gabriel or complete our contact form.