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Florida’s Carjacking Laws

A Florida mom made national headlines recently after the video of an attempted carjacking went viral. As reported by ABC News, the woman was pumping gas at a local station around 10:00 PM. Her two young children were in the back seat of the car. Surveillance cameras captured the event as one armed individual got into the driver’s seat and another ran around to the passenger side of the car. The mother pulled the man out of the driver’s seat and pushed him away. The cameras then show both of the individuals fleeing from the scene. The mother and children were not harmed.

According to ABC News, two males and one female are being held by law enforcement as suspects in the case. Three handguns were reportedly seized and the suspects are currently facing charges of attempted carjacking, fleeing and eluding police.

What is Carjacking?

Under Florida law, carjacking is defined as:

  • the taking of motor vehicle from the person or custody of an individual;
  • through the use of force, violence, assault, or intimidation;
  • with the intention of permanently or temporarily depriving the person or the owner of the motor vehicle.

Carjacking differs from grand theft auto cases in two ways. First, carjacking takes place when the victim is physically present and in custody of the car. Second, it includes some act of force to facilitate the taking. For example, the theft of an unattended car in a parking lot may constitute grand theft auto, but the taking a car from a driver while she is stopped at a traffic intersection may constitute carjacking.

Due to the often violent nature of this crime, lawmakers have made the penalties for carjacking significantly high. If committed while in possession of a firearm or deadly weapon, a carjacking conviction can result in a life sentence. If no firearm is present, the charge is classified as a first degree felony, with a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and fines up to $10,000.

Defending the Case

When faced with a carjacking charge, it is imperative that you secure representation from an experienced Florida criminal defense attorney. There are several issues at play in a carjacking allegation and an attorney can use one or all of them to successfully defend your case. For example:

  • False identification – A carjacking is generally very quick in nature, sometimes lasting less than a minute. This is a very limited amount of time for a victim to adequately see the perpetrator. For this reason, false identification is a common defense in carjacking cases.
  • Consent – If you were actually given consent to operate the vehicle from an owner or custodian, then the intention element of the crime is not met and your attorney may defend the state’s assertion of your guilt.

Carjacking is a serious crime and a conviction can result in significant jail time, along with other lifelong implications. It is important that you contact an experienced criminal law attorney to secure an aggressive and knowledgeable defense. The office of Ratzan & Faccidomo is ready and able to provide the representation you need. Contact the office at (305) 330-3905 for a free and confidential consultation in Miami.

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