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Carjacking vs. grand theft auto charges

On Behalf of | Jan 4, 2021 | Violent Crimes |

Although carjacking and grand theft involve taking a vehicle from its owner, the California Penal Code views them as very different crimes, and the penalties reflect that. If you face carjacking charges, case details are critical in the type of charges brought against you and the punishment the jury reaches a guilty verdict.

According to the California Legislature, grand theft auto occurs if you steal a motor vehicle with a value of $950 or more.

Differences between grand theft auto and carjacking

Grand theft, also known as grand theft auto, is a felony and carries a sentence of not more than one year in the county jail for a first offense. Depending on the unique circumstances of your case, you may face other charges related to the incident. Subsequent grand theft charges may result in a longer sentence if the court finds you guilty.

For carjacking, a passenger of the automobile must be in the immediate presence must be a victim of force or fear. A conviction results in a sentence of three to nine years in state prison. In some cases, the situation may result in robbery charges instead of carjacking as the two felonious charges occur under similar circumstances.

Defenses against carjacking

The most effective defense depends on the situation. If you can establish no force or fear occurred during the event, the charges may change to grand theft auto. Consent is also a common defense. Carjacking is subject to the “Three Strikes” law and may double the prison term for a second conviction. False accusations can ruin your life. Learn more about clearing your name here.