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When is stealing a car a carjacking in Virginia?

Some types of alleged thefts can lead to a person facing violent crime charges. One theft-related violent crime charge here in Virginia is carjacking. 

When does an auto theft rise to the level of being a carjacking? Under state law, a person commits carjacking if they intentionally seize a motor vehicle that belongs to another person or the control of such a vehicle, with the intent to deprive a possessor or controller of the vehicle of possession or control of the vehicle temporarily or permanently, and they did one of the following to make the seizure:

  • Made a threat of or presented a firearm.
  • Made a threat of or presented a non-firearm deadly weapon/instrumentality.
  • Assaulted a person.
  • Caused a person to be in fear of suffering serious bodily harm.
  • Beat a person.
  • Struck a person.
  • Committed violence against a person.
  • Committed a suffocation.
  • Committed a partial strangulation.

A charge of carjacking is a very major charge to face here in Virginia. Carjacking is a felony offense that carries a very high minimum and maximum prison sentence. Under state law, the minimum prison sentence a person convicted of carjacking is to be given is a 15-year sentence. The maximum sentence state law sets for a carjacking conviction is a life sentence. 

When a person has been charged of an offense that has a high minimum and maximum prison sentence, such as carjacking, what actions and approaches they take during the criminal proceedings related to the charge can very deeply impact what the rest of their life will be like. Thus, a person could be putting a great deal at risk by going through such proceedings without the right legal guidance. This is why promptly obtaining skilled defense representation is so important when facing major charges like carjacking charges. 

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