What is Carjacking?
Carjacking is typically defined under most jurisdictions’ laws as the taking of a motor vehicle through force, violent act, intimidation, or threat. Federal law also defines carjacking as the attempted or accomplished theft of a vehicle by someone unknown to the victim.
Like robbery, a carjacking offense requires a victim to be present during the theft of the vehicle. In most carjacking incidents, the perpetrator usually has or implies that he or she has a weapon to take the vehicle from the victim by force or by threat of force.
When a perpetrator does use force to take a vehicle from the victim, it often results in injury to or death of the victim. In other cases, the perpetrator may abduct or kidnap the victim, taking the victim with them or forcing the victim to operate the vehicle. In many cases, when carjacking involves abduction or kidnapping of the victim, the victim is either ejected or escapes from the vehicle or the victim is let out of the vehicle in a dangerous or remote location. In some cases, an infant or young child is left in the vehicle and the perpetrator is unaware of their presence until long after the initial act of carjacking.
In some carjacking cases, the perpetrator or perpetrators will commit additional crimes against the victims, such as aggravated assault, battery, robbery, rape, or homicide.
History of Carjacking
Carjacking was a relatively obscure crime until around the 1980s, when news reports began covering incidents where vehicles were suddenly and violently stolen from their drivers or occupants. Of course, over the years as the number of vehicles on the road has risen, it means that there are more vehicles available for criminals to carjack. Criminals who are looking to steal a vehicle may turn to carjacking since it is more likely that the car is running or the keys are in the car so that the criminal will be able to simply start the vehicle and drive away, rather than trying to break into an unoccupied vehicle and hotwiring the vehicle to start it.
As carjackings entered the popular consciousness through news coverage, drivers and travelers have become more vigilant of their surroundings and have begun taking precautions such as ensuring that the vehicle’s doors are locked or moving away if a stranger begins to approach the vehicle or the driver’s door.
Frequency of Carjacking Offenses
Determining the frequency of carjacking presents many difficulties. For example, there is still a lack of centralization in law enforcement databases that complicates the collection of offense data. In addition, police reports often label carjacking arrests under different or additional criminal offenses such as aggravated robbery, grand theft auto, assault, or battery. Some law enforcement investigators focus solely on the fact that a vehicle was stolen, without paying heed to the fact that it was stolen from a driver or occupant with force or the threat of force.
According to FBI estimates, over 49,000 attempted or successful carjackings occur in the United States each year. Approximately half of all carjacking attempts fail; of the attempts that succeed, in over 90 percent of cases the perpetrator was armed with a weapon, most commonly with a firearm.
Contact an Experienced Hamilton Township Criminal Defense Lawyer About Your Carjacking Charges in New Jersey
Were you arrested or charged with carjacking in New Jersey? The consequences of a conviction could be severe, leaving you with a permanent criminal record and possibly even sending you to jail. That is why you need to speak with a qualified criminal defense attorney as soon as possible about your case. The attorneys at The Davis Law Firm, LLC have successfully represented clients charged with carjacking in Robbinsville, Hopewell, West Windsor, East Windsor, and throughout New Jersey. Call 609-587-9100 or fill out the online contact form to schedule a consultation with a member of our legal team. We have an office conveniently located at 2653 Nottingham Way, Hamilton Township, NJ 08619.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.