A red Honda was recently taken from an individual while at the local airport. Witnesses claim that the alleged thief crashed the car into a light pole, exited the vehicle with a backpack, and was then shot in the stomach by a police officer. He remains in stable condition in a local hospital. Upon release, he will almost certainly be charged with a California carjacking crime.
While most media reporters have chosen to focus on the fact that a law enforcement official wounded the suspect, it will be the purpose here to set forth what may happen to anyone accused of the crime of carjacking. Similar to robbery cases, a key component of California carjacking law (CA Penal Code 215) is the use of ‘force or fear.’ This means that a person attempting to steal a car from another individual must do it, not only in the presence of that other person, but through the use of either threats or through the use of force. What this amounts to is a serious crime.
Carjacking is always considered a felony in California. Oftentimes, someone accused of carjacking is also accused, at the same time, with a robbery, battery, grand theft auto, or assault charge, depending on the facts of the case. If convicted, the person involved in the carjacking at the airport may face anywhere from 3 to 9 years in state prison. Even if he does not end up going to prison, he will be subject to probation and a potential $10,000 fine.