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The Spodek Law Group understands how delicate high-profile cases can be, and has a strong track record of getting positive outcomes. Our lawyers service a clientele that is nationwide. With offices in both LA and NYC, and cases all across the country - Spodek Law Group is a top tier law firm.

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Why is carjacking a federal crime

By Spodek Law Group | March 7, 2023

Potential Penalties for Federal Carjacking Offenses

Car theft is a serious crime that can lead to severe consequences. In most cases, state and local law enforcement authorities are responsible for prosecuting offenses involving motor vehicle thefts. However, due to the increased number of such offenses and the increased use of violence in connection with the offenses, Congress enacted a federal carjacking statute. This statute directs the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United States Attorneys’ offices to cooperate with state and local authorities in the investigation of such offenses and to prosecute some offenses in federal court.

The experienced lawyers at Spodek Law Group, led by Attorney Todd Spodek, understand the severity of carjacking offenses and the potential consequences for those accused of committing them. As a law firm that operates nationwide, we have the knowledge and skills to handle any legal situation, including carjacking offenses.

The federal carjacking statute, also known as 18 U.S.C. 2119, was enacted in 1992 and was later amended in 1994. This statute provides that whoever, with the intent to cause death or serious bodily harm, takes a motor vehicle from another person by force, violence, or intimidation, which motor vehicle has been transported, shipped, or received in interstate or foreign commerce, commits a federal offense.

The requirement of interstate or foreign commerce is met when a motor vehicle is moved in interstate or foreign commerce. To prove interstate or foreign commerce, the government only needs to show that the motor vehicle traveled at some time in interstate or foreign commerce. The government does not need to prove that the motor vehicle was moving in interstate commerce at the time it was carjacked. It only needs to prove that the motor vehicle was moving in interstate commerce at one time in the past.

Most federal courts have upheld the constitutionality of the federal carjacking statute as a valid exercise of Congress’s powers under the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution. These courts have found a connection between the statute and interstate commerce based on the effect of carjacking on interstate travel and on the travel of foreign citizens in the United States, based on the impact of the sale of stolen motor vehicles and their parts in interstate commerce, and based on increased insurance premiums as a result of carjackings.

The punishment for the federal offense of carjacking is severe. If no serious bodily injury or death occurred, a carjacker may be sentenced to up to 15 years in prison. If serious bodily injury occurred as a result of the carjacking, a carjacker may be sentenced to up to 25 years in prison. If a death occurred as a result of the carjacking, a carjacker may be sentenced to life in prison or may even receive the death penalty.

Our team at Spodek Law Group has the knowledge and skills to defend individuals accused of federal carjacking offenses. We understand the gravity of these charges and are dedicated to ensuring that our clients receive a fair trial.

Federal Carjacking Law – 18 U.S.C. 2119

We all know that stealing a car is against the law, but did you know that in certain instances, an individual accused of stealing a car can be charged at the federal level? Federal carjacking charges are much more severe than state car theft charges and can result in significantly longer prison sentences and higher fines.

Under 18 U.S.C. 2119, carjacking is a federal crime when someone takes a motor vehicle transported, shipped, or received in interstate or foreign commerce. In other words, the car must cross state or country lines for the crime to be filed as a federal offense.

The statute requires that the vehicle must be taken from someone by force, violence, or intimidation, and the accused must have the intent to cause death or serious bodily harm. The use of force or intimidation must be done with the intent to cause serious bodily injury or death. Attempting to use force or intimidation, even unsuccessfully, can also result in federal carjacking charges.

The Spodek Law Group, led by Attorney Todd Spodek, is a national law firm with extensive experience in defending individuals facing federal carjacking charges. We understand the intricacies of federal law and can provide the expertise necessary to handle any carjacking case.

18 U.S. CODE § 2119 Explained

To be charged with federal carjacking under 18 U.S. Code § 2119, the accused must have done the following:

Taken a vehicle that has been transported, shipped, or received in interstate or foreign commerce.
Taken the vehicle by using force or intimidation.
Taken the car knowingly.
Had the intent to cause death or serious bodily injury to the victim when the car was demanded or taken.

An individual can be charged and convicted under this statute even if they were not successful in stealing the car but attempted to do so.

The significant difference between state carjacking charges and this federal law is that the car in question must have been traveling across state or international borders for the purpose of interstate commerce.

Federal Carjacking Defense Lawyer

If you are facing federal carjacking charges, it is crucial to have an experienced criminal defense lawyer on your side. Our team at Spodek Law Group has the expertise and knowledge necessary to provide the best defense possible.

Several defenses might be available if you are charged with carjacking under federal law. These defenses are case-specific, so it is essential to have your case professionally evaluated by an experienced criminal defense attorney to determine if these defenses apply to your case. Some of the most common defenses to federal carjacking include:

The vehicle did not travel across state lines or an international border.
The vehicle was not fully built when it was being transported.
You did not have the intent to cause death or serious injury.
The vehicle was not in the driver/owner’s proximity.

We can negotiate with the federal prosecutor for a lesser offense or convince them there is insufficient evidence to convict you, which might result in dropped charges. If guilt is not in doubt in your carjacking case, we are skilled negotiators that might be able to negotiate a favorable plea bargain.

What are the potential penalties for carjacking?

The potential penalties for a carjacking conviction vary based on the level of harm that occurred during the alleged carjacking. The federal court’s determination of your intent depends on the case’s details.

If no injury or harm results from the alleged carjacking, then the maximum possible penalty is 15 years in federal prison along with a fine. If a serious bodily injury resulted from the alleged carjacking, then the maximum possible penalty is 25 years in federal prison along with a fine. If a death resulted from the alleged carjacking, the maximum possible penalty could be the death penalty or a life sentence along with a fine.

It is crucial to determine if viable defenses exist if you are charged with federal carjacking. Our team at Spodek Law Group has the expertise and knowledge necessary to provide the best defense possible in these cases. Contact us today to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced criminal defense lawyers.

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