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DAVID CLARK
Criminal Defense Attorney

Philadelphia Carjacking Charges

Under Philadelphia and Pennsylvania law, carjacking is the forceful taking of a motor vehicle while in the presence of its owner with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of such motor vehicle.

In theory, carjacking is the robbery of a motor vehicle in the presence of an owner. Therefore, it is the combination of the theft of a motor vehicle and assaultive behavior. When someone is facing Philadelphia carjacking charges, they are looking at up to 10 years in jail and a fine of up to $25,000 per count. Due to the severe penalties, it may be essential to contact an experienced carjacking lawyer who could review your case and help build a defense for you.

Separate Charges Could be Included

In Philadelphia, the separate charges that make out the offense of carjacking involve all the charges associated with robbery as well as a felony of the first degree of a motor vehicle. First and foremost, the charge of robbery comes into play then the charge of theft, which is theft of motor vehicle. In some cases, receiving stolen property of that same motor vehicle, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, and assaultive behavior such as simple assault or terroristic threats, come into play in Philadelphia carjacking charges.

Common Carjacking Scenarios

One of the most common examples of carjacking in Philadelphia involves the theft of motor vehicles at gas stations while the owner of the vehicle is pumping gas or inside the gas station. In this case, an individual may enter the motor vehicle while the owner is on their way back to the vehicle and the individual takes off in the vehicle, obviously without the permission to do so.

Carjacking is charged in this situation because it is still a combination of robbery in the presence of the owner. Carjacking may also occur when someone is in the process of stealing a car and they may not know that there is another person or a child in the car at the time of the act.

Auto Theft and Carjacking

Carjacking is different from auto theft because it involves threat and/or force while committing a car theft. Should the owner or another person with permission to operate the vehicle is present at the time of the theft, then the theft is considered carjacking. Auto theft is simply the act of stealing or attempting to steal a motor vehicle.

Carjacking is a more violent offense than auto theft. Once there is a threat, presence of violence, or actual injury, carjacking of the first degree is charged. This allows the Commonwealth to seek a sentence of up to 10 years in jail and a $25,000 fine.

Difference Between Carjacking and Joyriding

The difference between carjacking and joyriding is that in Pennsylvania, there is no charge of joyriding. Nearly entering a vehicle and joyriding it is not considered joyriding. However, that does not make it legal. When dealing with carjacking, an individual must commit a car theft while in the presence of a person who is authorized to have the car and that presence often is protected by some kind of fear or other action on behalf of the accused.

Additionally, once the person leaves the site, the person is operating the motor vehicle or unauthorized operation use of such motor vehicle. When dealing with a person joyriding, if the individual had to steal the car outside the presence of others in order to create the joyriding action, the person will be charged with third-degree felony theft and second-degree unauthorized use of a motor vehicle. If you are facing Philadelphia carjacking charges, call an attorney today.