Car jacking is a felony under the laws of Massachusetts. It is a serious crime and as such carries severe penalties. Car jacking, however, can be difficult to prove. If you are charged with car jacking, it is extremely important to choose an attorney who will advocate aggressively on your behalf, and force the prosecutor to prove each element of the case.

Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 265, Section 21A defines car jacking, and lays out two elements that a prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt to find someone guilty of car jacking:

First, the prosecutor must prove that the defendant intended to steal a motor vehicle, meaning the defendant acted with the desire to permanently deprive the owner of the motor vehicle of his or her property. For example, if the defendant can establish that he only intended to borrow the car, and was planning on returning it to the owner after using it, he cannot be convicted of car jacking. However, if the owner did not know or consent to the borrowing of the car, the defendant can still be convicted of the lesser crime of joy riding.

Second, the prosecutor must prove that the defendant assaulted, confined, maimed, or put someone in fear of being assaulted, confined, or maimed for the purpose of stealing the motor vehicle.

Thus, the prosecutor does not need to prove that the defendant actually stole the motor vehicle; an attempt to do so suffices, as long as the prosecutor establishes that the defendant acted with the desire to steal the motor vehicle.

Penalties for a car jacking conviction vary greatly, but usually involve jail time. If the prosecutor decides to keep the case in district court, the maximum sentence available is 2.5 years in the House of Correction. However, if the prosecutor chooses to proceed with the case in superior court, and prosecute the offense as a felony, the maximum sentence available is 15 years in state prison.

In addition, a prosecutor may choose to charge an individual with aggravated car jacking if the prosecutor has evidence that the defendant carried a weapon while attempting to steal the motor vehicle. In this case, the prosecutor has to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendant was armed with a dangerous weapon at the time of the car jacking, in addition to the two elements listed above. A dangerous weapon can be obviously dangerous items, such as guns or knives, or any object that is capable of producing serious bodily harm depending on how it is used by the defendant. If the prosecutor charges aggravated car jacking, the case must proceed in superior court, and a conviction carries a mandatory minimum 5-year sentence, with a maximum of 20 years. This means that the judge cannot impose a sentence less than 5 years.

Speak With an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney Today at 617.492.3000 or 800.481.6199

Carjacking is a violent crime, and all violent crimes are very serious. If you face a carjacking charge, you should call an excellent criminal defense lawyer right away. With these types of punishments looming, you need a defense lawyer with experience. The defense attorneys of Altman & Altman LLP have decades of combined experience and an excellent reputation. We have successfully handled cases in all areas of criminal law, including carjacking and aggravated carjacking. Our attorneys can provide you with the aggressive defense that you need. With your freedom at stake, you should not hesitate.

If you have been charged carjacking or any other crime in Massachusetts, call the experienced criminal defense attorneys of Altman & Altman LLP at 617.492.3000 or 800.481.6199 toll-free, or contact us online for a free consultation.

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