Florida Carjacking Criminal Charges Under Florida Statutes Section 812.133
Anti-theft technology in today’s vehicles has made it increasingly difficult to steal them however, some auto thieves have resorted to high-tech measures. Notwithstanding, a significant amount more use the old-fashioned method of carjacking.
Carjacking in Florida refers to the theft of a vehicle from the custody of another individual through the use of violence, threats, force, or assault. Keep in mind that most carjacking suspects are charged with a first-degree felony given the fact that they used a deadly weapon or firearm while committing the crime. The maximum penalty for a first-degree felony is life imprisonment.
There is also the potential for Florida’s 10/20/Life Firearm Enhancement to apply in a suspect’s case, which could mean the imposition of minimum mandatory penalties such as decades long imprisonment and/or a life sentence, if convicted.
The charge of carjacking is extremely serious and cannot be understated, which is why it is critical for a suspect to hire a skilled Florida Carjacking Defense Attorney as soon as possible following one’s arrest.
How Carjacking is Defined in Florida
Under Florida Statutes Section 812.133, “carjacking” is defined as “the taking of a motor vehicle which may be the subject of larceny from the person or custody of another, with intent to either permanently or temporarily deprive the person or the owner of the motor vehicle, when in the course of the taking there is the use of force, violence, assault, or putting in fear.”
Most carjacking crimes occur in urban and suburban areas that have a high-density population rate. It is important to note that the last comprehensive study of carjacking in the United States was conducted back in 2004. In this study, known as the National Crime Victimization Survey, it approximated that over 30,000 carjacking incidents occurred on an annual basis between 1993 and 2002. In nearly 75% of the cases, the suspect used a firearm, and about 50% of the victims sustained bodily harm.
While carjacking is one form of automobile theft, it has been gaining traction in Florida. The reason for this is due to the difficulty of trying to hot-wire a vehicle (most of which are now high-tech), as noted above. Nowadays, it is often easier to make off with a vehicle while it is still running.
The Federal Anti-Car-Theft Act of 1992 was created due to the staggering increase in carjacking crimes during the 1980s and 1990s. This law elevates carjacking to a federal offense, in some instances. In fact, the law imposes federal penalties upon those who use a firearm or other type of weapon in order to steal a vehicle that has been shipped, transported, or received in foreign or interstate commerce from another individual or in the presence of another individual while using violence, force, or intimidation.
It is worth noting that the first carjacking case that was prosecuted under the above-referenced law was from Florida.
Carjacking and the Associated Penalties in Florida
In Florida, it is a first-degree felony to commit the crime of carjacking. It is also a Level 7 offense. This means that the repercussions associated with this crime are severe, even for a person who does not have a criminal history.
The mandatory minimum sentencing of an individual convicted of carjacking is 21 months in prison, which amounts to nearly two years. This assumes that no weapon was used during the commission of the crime (this is rarely the case), and no one sustained physical harm. The maximum penalties for carjacking are (i) 30 years in prison; (ii) 30 years of probation; and (iii) $10,000 in monetary fines.
Customarily, the above-penalties apply to those who commit carjacking while unarmed.
Weapons and Sentencing Enhancements
If a suspect allegedly uses a weapon while carjacking a vehicle, the crime becomes as Level 9 offense. This automatically increases the minimum mandatory sentence that a judge must impose to a four-year prison term.
The maximum penalties for carjacking while armed with a firearm or other deadly weapon is (i) life imprisonment; (ii) life probation; and (iii) 10/20/Life Firearm Enhancement.
There is an additional consideration that a person has to make in a carjacking case and this is how Florida’s 10/20/Life statutes becomes relevant. This law, found at Florida Statutes Section 775.087, this requires the judge to order a minimum prison term of 10 years, 20 years, or 25 years to life imprisonment for felonies involving the use or attempted use of a deadly weapon. This law provides as follows:
- A minimum of ten years in prison for possessing a firearm;
- A minimum of twenty years in prison for discharging a firearm; and
- A minimum of 25 years if a person sustains bodily harm or dies by that firearm.
If the firearm that was used during the commission of carjacking was a machine gun or assault weapon, the penalties are enhanced to fifteen years, twenty years, or 25 to life in prison.
The above law applies irrespective of whether a weapon constitutes an element of the offense. All that the prosecution needs to establish is that the suspect was in possession of a firearm during the commission of the crime.
There may be a variety of different defenses that apply to carjacking matters, including a claim of right defense (where the person who took the vehicle had a good faith belief that he or she is the owner of vehicle and entitled to immediate possession. It is vital to contact a skilled Florida Criminal Defense Attorney today to learn more about your legal options in this regard.
Contact Musca Law Today to Learn More About Your Legal Options
If you or someone you know is being charged with carjacking in Florida, it is critical to consult with a skilled Florida Criminal Defense Attorney as soon as possible. At Musca Law, our experienced team of Florida Carjacking Defense Lawyers has the skills and experience to fight for your legal rights and interests. We have over 150 years of collective legal experience representing those facing carjacking charges throughout the State of Florida.
Contact Musca Law at (888) 484-5057 to learn more about your legal rights and options. We look forward to making a difference for you.