The crime of carjacking is a serious offense in Maryland and other states. If you have been accused of a carjacking, you could be facing some serious prison time. This offense should not be taken lightly. If you or someone you love has been charged with carjacking, it is imperative you speak to a skilled Maryland criminal defense attorney right away.
What is Carjacking?
Carjacking is when someone uses the threat of violence or bodily harm to force the victim to give up their vehicle. The victim does not need to be driving the vehicle for it to qualify as carjacking. Passengers can also be carjacking victims.
The term originated in the early 1990s when a news station referred to someone who was killed after refusing to give up his vehicle as being ‘carjacked.’ The term stuck, and a sudden rise in the number of instances of this types of crime prompted additional legislation.
In Maryland, being charged with carjacking can result in a felony conviction and prison time of up to 30 years. This sentence is separate and consecutive from any other sentence for other crimes that arise from carjacking. If you have prior convictions, the sentence can be further enhanced.
Carjacking is Both a State and Federal Crime
Each state has its own laws on carjacking, but the federal government also stepped in and passed a law, as well. Title 18 United States Code 2119 discusses what constitutes a federal carjacking offense. If you attempt to steal a vehicle that has been shipped, transported, or received in foreign or interstate commerce through the threat of or use of force or violence, it is federal carjacking. A federal carjacking crime can carry heavy fines and/or a prison sentence of up to 15 years. If you cause serious bodily injury, you can be fined and/or face prison time of up to 25 years. If you kill someone, you could receive life in prison or be sentenced to death.
Carjackers are Often Minors
Unfortunately, a number of people charged with carjacking are under 18 years of age, and are therefore still minors. Do not be surprised to learn that he or she will be charged as an adult and face the same stiff penalties as someone who is already an adult. Getting an experienced criminal defense attorney involved early on is important to fight to keep the case in juvenile court, rather than a regular court that will be more focused on incarceration versus rehabilitation.
Carjackings on the Rise
According to a recent Baltimore news report, carjackings are on the rise statewide. In 2012, there were 473 reported carjackings across Maryland. In 2016, Baltimore City had nearly 400 alone. There is speculation that with the technological advances in vehicles, thieves can no longer steal a car easily. Stats indicate that most people are carjacked within five miles of their home, usually while getting in or out of their vehicle. It pays to always monitor your surroundings when you are entering or exiting your vehicle.
With most carjacking incidents taking place within a matter of 20-30 seconds, there are instances in which a victim has misidentified the perpetrator. If you or someone in your family is facing carjacking charges, it is important to have a skilled attorney representing you.
Contact the Law Office of Robert R. Castro to discuss your matter and let our experienced team build the best defense possible. Contact us online or call our office at 301-870-1200 to schedule a consultation.