DC Carjacking Lawyer

The Washington DC code treats carjacking as an extremely serious felony offense, particularly if a weapon is involved. Those convicted face lengthy mandatory sentences with the potential for even longer terms.

Accordingly, it important to act quickly to collect evidence to build a strong defense against the charges. An experienced DC carjacking lawyer could work to preserve evidence such as video footage which might be erased. A dedicated theft defense lawyer could also protect your rights and fight to help you reach a positive outcome.

Penalties for Carjacking in DC

The criminal penalties for carjacking vary depending on whether the individual charged had access to a firearm or other deadly weapon. For armed carjacking, a convicted individual faces a minimum sentence of 15 years in prison and a maximum of 40 years. However, the prosecution must prove the existence of specific aggravating factors in order for the court to issue a sentence in excess of 30 years.

Aggravating factors that could trigger the maximum sentence include:

  • Especially heinous or cruel circumstances
  • A finding that the act was motivated by race, religion, national or origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity
  • Offenses committed against witnesses in a criminal investigation
  • Commission to avoid arrest or escape from custody
  • Serious bodily injury caused during the crime

In situations where a carjacking was committed without the use of a deadly weapon, the minimum sentence is seven years, and the maximum is 21 years. Courts may also impose a fine of up to $75,000.

Criminal Statute Prohibiting Carjacking

D.C. Code §22-2803 defines the offenses of carjacking and armed carjacking. Someone may be found guilty of carjacking if they take “immediate actual possession” of someone’s car or another motor vehicle directly from that person.

For an offense to be carjacking rather than “unauthorized use of a motor vehicle,” which is a less serious crime, the person taking the vehicle must use some type of violence or physical force, and they must take the vehicle directly from another person.

Specifically, a Washington DC carjacking lawyer could argue that prosecution failed to demonstrate that the person charged took immediate possession of the vehicle from another person against their will and without the legal right to do so, or that the person attempted to or succeeded in causing fear, overcame resistance, or used stealth to take the vehicle.

An attorney could also argue that the prosecution failed to prove that the individual acted knowingly or recklessly, rather than by mistake.

Armed Carjacking

As noted above, carjacking is penalized more severely when it is considered “armed carjacking.” If someone commits or tries to commit a carjacking while “armed with or having readily available” a sufficiently dangerous weapon, then the offense will be treated as armed carjacking.

The weapons that qualify include firearms and fake guns, knives, clubs, brass knuckles, and other “dangerous or deadly” weapons.  A carjacking lawyer in DC could argue that an individual charged with armed carjacking did not have actual access to a weapon, or that the weapon was not harmful enough to trigger this provision.

Contact a Washington DC Carjacking Attorney Today

Experienced defense attorneys know of many strategies that may be applied in a carjacking case. Because the state of mind of the parties is important, evidence regarding state of mind and the particular statements made and actions are taken will be crucial.

A DC carjacking lawyer could show that an incident involved a mistake, or that there was no force or violence involved. The best evidence to support the defensive strategy is often only available shortly after an incident, so it is wise to start right away to collect evidence and prepare a strong defense. For a free consultation to learn the advantages of working with an experienced carjacking defense attorney, call now.