The Defense of Carjacking Crimes in Florida
Carjacking charges are extremely serious, and a conviction can result in significant difficulties for the accused. The late eighties and early nineties saw a significant rise in the rate of carjackings, especially within urban, high crime areas. The trend brought about the Federal Anti-Car Theft Act of 1992, a federal legislation that made carjacking a federal offense in some specific instances. A Florida carjacking case was the first federally prosecuted case under the law. By the mid-1990s, violent carjacking stories inundated the news. States began to follow the lead of the federal government, increasing penalties for the convictions.
According to a report in the Orlando Sentinel, an alleged carjacking recently resulted in a fatal crash on a Florida highway. Two teenagers were accused of pointing a gun in the face of an Oakland man, and demanding his BMW. Shortly after reportedly leaving the scene in the car, law enforcement unsuccessfully attempted to stop them. Police continued their pursuit of the suspects southbound on Florida’s Turnpike. When trying to exit the roadway, the car flipped over several times, according to the article. Both the driver and passenger were thrown from the car. The 17-year-old suspect died at the hospital, while the 19-year-old suspect was reportedly listed in critical condition. Law enforcement officers charged him with grand theft, along with fleeing and eluding police. There is also a pending charge for carjacking.
The Crime of Carjacking
Under Florida law, carjacking is defined as:
- the taking of a motor vehicle from the custody of another;
- with the intent to deprive the owner of the vehicle;
- by the use of force, violence, assault or placing the owner in fear
If a firearm or other deadly weapon is used in the commission of the crime, it is classified as a first degree felony with a possible sentence up to life imprisonment and a $10,000 fine. A minimum of 48 months in jail is mandatory.
When defending a carjacking defendant, an experienced lawyer may use a number of possible defenses. The victim and witnesses may have misidentified the accused, either purposely or mistakenly. This is a common concern within criminal law enforcement, where photo lineups are often used for witness identification of suspects. Officers generally carry out the process in one of two ways:
- Simultaneous lineups, which involve the presentation of numerous pictures at once; or
- Sequential lineups, which involve the presentation of one picture at a time.
According to studies, the use of simultaneous lineups can lead to a significant level of mistakes in identification, while the sequential technique results in higher level of accuracy. An experienced lawyer can look at the identification techniques used for the police investigation. He or she can then point out relevant inconsistencies to the court.
If you or a loved one is facing charges of carjacking, Attorneys Mycki Ratzan and Jude Faccidomo can provide you with an aggressive and comprehensive defense. Contact Ratzan & Faccidomo, LLC in Miami today at (305) 330-3905 for a confidential and free consultation.