Carjacking is the crime of attempting or completing the act of taking another individual's motor vehicle against their will and with the intent of temporarily or permanently depriving them of their property. Carjacking is done in the presence of the motor vehicle owner through the means of force and/or fear. All fifty states and the federal government have carjacking laws. The federal government passed an armed carjacking law in 1992. Death that results from a carjacking is a considered a capital crime under federal law.

The Department of Justice reports that approximately 49,000 carjacking cases occur each year in the United States. This means that carjacking is the cause of about two percent of all motor vehicle thefts. Between 1992 and 1996 approximately one half of all carjacking attempts were completed. Of the completed carjacking attempts, 90 percent involved the threat or use of a weapon, most of which were firearms (70 percent). The number of victims that are injured in carjacking situations is lower fortunately: 23% of competed carjacking victims are hurt and ten percent of attempting carjacking victims.

In most carjacking cases (92 percent) the victim is alone when the attack occurs. Common carjacking areas can include parking lots, intersections, apartments, businesses and schools. The majority of victims are male and more carjacking cases take place in urban areas. Only thirty percent of all carjacking cases are reported to the owner's insurance company. Some carjacking victims report that their insurance did not cover theft, and others chose not to report the crime for unspecified reasons. Carjacking is less likely to be reported to an insurance company than theft of a motor vehicle.

Carjacking perpetrators, like other crooks, look for easy targets. This means that there are some ways that motor vehicle owners can protect themselves from carjacking. The following steps can be taken to mitigate the risks of becoming a victim of carjacking: always be aware of your surroundings; have your keys ready when you approach your car; once inside lock all doors and windows; do not get into a car if the doors are unexpectedly unlocked or open; avoid areas you perceive to be dangerous; if an accident occurs or an unmarked police car prompts you to pull over go to a safe, well lit and populated place, if possible; and report any suspicious activity to authorities as soon as possible.

If you do become the victim of carjacking, it is important to remember that your life and safety is more important than your car. Often the best course of action is to surrender your vehicle rather than to confront the carjacker. After a carjacking, it is important to notify the police as soon as possible. An investigation can commence to find the offender and apprehend him for the carjacking. Carjacking is prosecuted as a felony in most states and is punishable by three to ten years in prison, a heavy fine, and other penalties. In many states minors who commit carjacking will be tried in an adult court rather than a juvenile court which often results in much harsher penalties.

If you would like to learn more about carjacking, please contact us to speak with a qualified and experienced criminal attorney who can help.

Related Car Jacking News 

July 14, 2008 -  Man Falsely Accused of Carjacking in TN

Jan 18, 2007 - CA Justices Rule Car Theft Cause For Deportation

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