Carjacking Defense at The Law Offices of Arash Hashemi

Facing a carjacking charge in Los Angeles requires immediate action to protect your rights and future. The Law Offices of Arash Hashemi are here to support individuals accused of carjacking, a significant legal matter under California Penal Code § 215 PC. Carjacking involves forcefully or through intimidation taking control of a vehicle directly from the owner or a passenger without permission.

California law treats this offense as a severe violent felony, indicating its serious nature. Conviction could lead to up to nine years in prison. The presence of a weapon during the act can further increase penalties. Additionally, a conviction counts as a “strike” under California’s Three Strikes law.

Attorney Arash Hashemi approaches negotiating with prosecutors for charge dismissal, reduction, or exploring alternatives like pretrial diversion. Early intervention could even prevent the filing of formal charges.

For professional legal assistance in carjacking cases, contact The Law Offices of Arash Hashemi at (310) 448-1529, or fill out our online form to schedule a consultation.

 CA Penal Code § 215 PC Overview

Carjacking, as defined by CA Penal Code § 215 PC, involves the felonious taking of a motor vehicle from the possession of another, through force or fear. This law highlights several key aspects:

  • (a) It’s unlawful for any person to forcibly take a motor vehicle that is in the possession of another, from their person or immediate presence, or that of a passenger, against their will, with the intent to temporarily or permanently deprive them of it.
  • (b) Carjacking is a serious offense, punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for three, five, or nine years.
  • (c) This section is distinct yet does not supersede Section 211; a person can be charged under both, but cannot be punished for the same act under both sections.





    The Prosecution’s Burden: Key Elements for Carjacking Charges

    To secure a conviction under § 215 PC, the prosecution must demonstrate:

    • Vehicle Ownership: The vehicle was in the legal possession of someone other than the accused at the time of the incident. This clarifies the non-ownership by the perpetrator.
    • Immediate Presence: The carjacking occurred within an area where the victim could exercise control over the vehicle, suggesting a direct and personal confrontation.
    • Lack of Consent: The vehicle was taken without the consent of the rightful possessor, establishing the act was against the will of the owner or passenger.
    • Force or Fear: The accused employed physical force or intimidation to obtain the vehicle or to prevent resistance. This indicates the use of coercion or threats to facilitate the carjacking.
    • Intent: At the moment of the carjacking, the accused intended to deprive the victim of the vehicle, whether temporarily or permanently. This intent must be proven to have existed at the time of, or prior to, the application of force or fear.

    Example Scenario:

    John approaches Sarah, who is seated in her parked car outside a grocery store. He knocks on the window, and when Sarah rolls it down, John threatens her with a knife, demanding she exit the car. Fearing for her safety, Sarah complies, and John drives away with the vehicle.

    In this scenario:

    • Vehicle Ownership: John took a vehicle he did not own.
    • Proximity of Possession: He took the car directly from Sarah’s immediate presence.
    • Consent: Sarah did not consent to John taking her car; she was coerced through threats.
    • Force or Threats: John used the threat of harm (fear) to compel Sarah to give up her vehicle.
    • Intent at the Time: John intended to deprive Sarah of her vehicle by using force at the moment of the crime.

     Legal Defenses Against Carjacking Charges

    • Consent: Demonstrating valid consent involves proving the vehicle’s owner or possessor willingly allowed the accused to use the vehicle. Evidence can include text messages, emails, or witness statements confirming consent. If consent was given, even if later withdrawn, it cannot retroactively establish a carjacking offense.
    • Outside Immediate Presence: This defense hinges on the location of the vehicle relative to its owner or possessor at the time of the alleged taking. Security footage, witness accounts, or GPS data can prove the vehicle was outside the direct vicinity of the owner, negating the possibility of a carjacking under the law.
    • Ownership: Proving ownership can nullify carjacking charges, as one cannot legally carjack their own vehicle. Ownership documents, registration, and insurance information can be used to establish the accused’s rightful possession of the vehicle.
    • Intent: Disproving intent involves showing the accused did not plan to deprive the vehicle’s owner of possession at the time of the alleged act. This might be shown through the accused’s actions, communications, or circumstances indicating no intent to steal. For instance, if the accused believed they had a right to the vehicle or intended to return it shortly, these factors could challenge the prosecution’s claim of intent.
    • No Force or Fear: Arguing there was no use of force or fear to obtain the vehicle focuses on the nature of the interaction. This might involve examining the accused’s behavior, the alleged victim’s testimony, and any physical evidence suggesting a lack of coercion or intimidation. If the taking involved persuasion without threats or physical force, it may not meet the legal definition of carjacking.

    An experienced defense attorney, leveraging these strategies with solid evidence and legal reasoning, can markedly influence the outcome of a carjacking case.

    Penalties for Carjacking Conviction

    A carjacking conviction in California leads to severe penalties:

    • State Imprisonment: Offenders face three to nine years in state prison.
    • Strike on Record: A carjacking conviction qualifies as a “strike” under the Three Strikes Law. Accumulating three strikes can lead to a minimum mandatory sentence of 25 years to life.
    • Financial Penalties: Individuals may also incur fines up to $10,000.
    • Enhanced Sentencing:
      • Gang-Related Activity: Association with gang activities during the carjacking can impose life imprisonment under the Street Terrorism Enforcement and Prevention Act.
      • Firearm Involvement: Under the “10-20-Life ‘Use A Gun and You’re Done'” law, using a gun during the carjacking adds 10 years, discharging it adds 20 years, and causing injury can lead to an additional minimum of 25 years to the sentence.
    • Additional Repercussions: Besides incarceration and fines, a carjacking conviction may result in probation and a permanent mark on the individual’s criminal record, which could adversely affect employment and other future prospects.

     FAQ: Addressing Your Carjacking Charges Concerns

    What immediate steps should I take after a carjacking arrest?

    After an arrest for carjacking, immediately invoke your right to remain silent and request legal representation. Do not discuss the case with the police or anyone else until your attorney is present.

    How does California law define ‘force or fear’ in carjacking cases?

    ‘Force or fear’ in carjacking cases, as defined by California law, involves compelling someone to relinquish control of their vehicle against their will through physical force or threats. The essential element is whether the victim perceived a threat or experienced actual force.

    Is it possible to reduce or drop charges in carjacking cases?

    In carjacking cases, charges may be reduced or dismissed if evidence suggests consent was given, or if there is insufficient evidence of force or fear. The defense attorney’s negotiation skills can significantly influence the case’s outcome.

    What is the difference between carjacking and auto theft under California law?

    Carjacking, under California law, is the act of forcibly taking a vehicle from someone’s presence using ‘force or fear.’ Auto theft, or grand theft auto, involves the theft of a vehicle without using force or fear, often without the owner’s immediate presence.

    How can the presence of a weapon affect my carjacking case?

    The presence of a weapon during a carjacking can exacerbate the charges and penalties due to the increased threat level and potential for harm, leading to longer prison sentences.

    How does consent play a role in defending against a carjacking charge?

    Proving that the vehicle owner or authorized possessor consented to the taking of the vehicle undermines the carjacking charge. This negates the ‘force or fear’ element and can lead to the dismissal of the charge.

    What impact does a carjacking conviction have on my future employment?

    A carjacking conviction, as a felony, can significantly hinder future employment opportunities, as many employers are hesitant to hire individuals with violent criminal records.

    Contact An Experienced Los Angeles Carjacking Defense Attorney

    Facing carjacking charges in California? The Law Offices of Arash Hashemi are here to navigate the complex legal battle ahead. Carrying serious penalties, including the possibility of strike under California’s Three Strikes Law, securing a knowledgeable defense is crucial.

    Attorney Arash Hashemi, with his extensive experience in criminal defense spanning more than two decades, prioritizes clear communication and tailored defense approaches. His focus is on ensuring clients are fully informed about their legal options and any developments in their case.

    Our office in the Westside Towers, Los Angeles, offers convenient access for clients from Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, Westwood, and those near the Expo/Bundy Station. We accommodate your schedule, providing weekend appointments and jail visits for in-depth discussions about your case.

    Visit us at our Los Angeles office or call (310) 448-1529. for a consultation to explore how we can fight for the best possible outcome in your case.





      11845 W Olympic Blvd #520, Los Angeles, CA 90064

      Monday—Friday 8:30AM–5:00PM

      (310) 448-1529


      Disclaimer: The content provided here is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is not intended to predict outcomes, as individual circumstances vary and laws may change over time. Those seeking legal advice should consult with a qualified attorney to understand how current laws apply to their specific situation. For detailed legal guidance on the topics discussed, please contact our law firm directly.