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Last Updated on: 18th October 2023, 09:02 am
Carjacking is a scary crime that involves someone forcefully taking your car from you. It can happen anywhere – in your driveway, at a stoplight, or in a parking lot. No one wants it to happen to them, but it’s good to understand the law in case it does.
The main federal law about carjacking is 18 U.S.C. 2119. This law makes carjacking a federal crime and outlines the penalties. Let’s break it down so you know what it means if you ever encounter carjacking.
Carjacking is when someone takes your car by force or intimidation. This includes using a weapon to threaten you to give up your car. It also includes just forcibly taking your car keys to steal the car.
So if someone points a gun at you and demands you get out of the car, that’s carjacking. Or if someone grabs your purse with your keys and drives off in your car, that’s carjacking too. It’s basically robbery, but with a car instead of cash.
The federal carjacking law, 18 U.S.C. 2119, says its illegal to take a motor vehicle by force and intimidation with intent to cause death or harm .
Let’s break that down:
So if someone uses a weapon or threat to make you give them your car, they are violating this law. Even if they don’t actually hurt you, just intimidating you with a weapon is enough.
If convicted of federal carjacking, the penalties can be severe:
And if someone is seriously hurt or killed during the carjacking, the penalties go up to 25 years to life in prison or even the death penalty.
So carjacking is not taken lightly by the law. The penalties reflect how seriously it threatens people’s safety.
You may wonder why carjacking is a federal issue, not just a state crime. There’s a few reasons its a federal law :
So the federal law helps coordinate efforts to reduce carjacking across the country. But state laws against robbery and assault also apply to carjacking.
If you are accused of carjacking, there are a few legal defenses that could help your case :
An experienced criminal defense lawyer can argue these defenses and negotiate reduced charges if the situation warrants it. They know how to challenge the prosecution’s evidence and cast doubt on intent.
Hopefully you never experience a carjacking. But if you do, cooperating is usually the safest option. Don’t try to resist or be a hero – just give them the car . Your life is more valuable than a car.
Then report it to police right away with descriptions of the carjacker and any details that can help. Check if your insurance covers carjacking too. And seek counseling if you need help coping with the trauma.
With awareness and caution, we can try to prevent carjacking. But the law is there to punish it severely if it occurs. Stay safe out there!
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