NJ Carjacking Lawyer
Criminal Defense Attorney Represents Clients Accused of Carjacking in New Jersey
The term “carjacking” probably conjures up all sorts of frightening images and elicits strong emotions, especially on behalf of victims. This is certainly true for New Jersey prosecutors, many of whom are eager to overcharge defendants in carjacking cases and seek maximum penalties. Moreover, the NJ criminal statute is written broadly so that prosecutors can file carjacking charges even when the defendant never entered the vehicle in question. This is why anyone who has been accused of carjacking in Hackensack, Paramus, Fort Lee, or anywhere else in Bergen County needs a good NJ carjacking lawyer on their side early in the legal process. A conviction for a violent crime such as carjacking could have serious ramifications, including significant prison time, expensive fines, and a permanent criminal record.
Have you been accused of carjacking in New Jersey? Then take control of your case by contacting criminal defense lawyer Frank T. Luciano today to schedule a free consultation.
N.J.S.A. 2C:15-2 – Carjacking Law in New Jersey
New Jersey carjacking charges are governed by N.J.S.A. 2C:15-2 of the NJ criminal code. The statute sets forth that a person is guilty of carjacking if they attempt to unlawfully take a motor vehicle and do at least one of the following:
- Inflict bodily injury or use force against an occupant of the vehicle.
- Threaten to inflict immediate bodily injury on an occupant of the vehicle.
- Threaten to commit any first degree crime or second degree crime.
- Drive off while a victim remains in the vehicle.
Furthermore, the carjacking statute makes it clear that a person can be charged with carjacking if they commit any of these actions during the taking of the car or while fleeing after the attempt to take the vehicle. In other words, it is not necessary for the carjacking attempt to be successful – the offender can still be charged even if they fail to actually get away with the vehicle. Additionally, another element of the carjacking statute that stands out is that a person can be charged with carjacking merely for threatening to use force against a vehicle occupant – it is not necessary for the offender to physically assault the victim.
Severe Penalties for Carjacking Convictions in NJ
New Jersey lawmakers recognized the threat that a carjacking incident poses to public health and safety by imposing incredibly harsh penalties for carjacking offenses. This means that anyone convicted of carjacking in NJ is likely to face significant prison time. Since carjacking is a first degree crime (i.e., felony), there is already a presumption of incarceration for convicted offenders. But carjacking is treated even more seriously than the typical first degree crime: carjacking is punishable by a sentence of 10-30 years in NJ state prison. Additionally, since carjacking is listed in the No Early Release Act (NERA), anyone convicted of carjacking must serve at least five (5) years or 85 percent of their sentence, whichever is greater.
It is also important to understand that NJ prosecutors are often reluctant to make plea deals in carjacking cases because the cases tend to involve multiple criminal charges. Moreover, NJ judges typically hand down the maximum allowable sentences in cases involving carjacking charges because those charges likely stem from threats and violent assaults, in addition to auto theft. The bottom line is that if you are convicted of carjacking in New Jersey, you are probably going to prison.
Another unique aspect of carjacking charges in New Jersey is that defendants may be forced to spend a lot of time behind bars before the case is resolved. Although the New Jersey Criminal Justice Reform Act basically eliminated cash bail requirements when the law took effect in January 2017, the bail reform law is typically interpreted by judges to exclude defendants who have been accused of carjacking because those defendants may pose a danger to their communities.
Related Charges: Carjacking, Aggravated Assault, and Gun Crimes in New Jersey
A carjacking charge is one of the most serious criminal charges that a person can face in New Jersey. But there are other serious charges that you might also be subject to in your carjacking case. That’s because carjacking offenses often involve the use of force and/or a weapon, which means that defendants in these cases can also be charged with gun crimes, aggravated assault, and other crimes. In fact, if you are accused of using a firearm during a carjacking attempt, it is very possible that you will be charged with numerous gun crimes such as unlawful possession of a weapon, possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, and other weapons offenses. Moreover, these types of weapons offenses fall under the NJ Graves Act, which means that a conviction will result in a mandatory minimum term of incarceration.
Other common charges in NJ carjacking cases include aggravated assault, kidnapping, and false imprisonment. These charges arise when the defendant is accused of unlawfully taking a motor vehicle and then driving off while a victim remains inside the car. When this happens, it could be interpreted as kidnapping or false imprisonment because the other person in the motor vehicle is technically being held against their will.
New Jersey prosecutors won’t hesitate to file as many criminal charges as possible in your carjacking case because doing so gives them leverage against you before trial. Accept an unfavorable plea deal and maybe the prosecutor will drop some of the charges. Reject their unfavorable plea offer and you could be convicted on all charges at trial, with the sentences then being imposed consecutively. The end result could be that you end up going to prison for a very long time, even if you manage to avoid conviction on the carjacking charges.
Schedule a Free Initial Consultation with Mahwah Carjacking Attorney Frank T. Luciano
Frank T. Luciano is an experienced New Jersey criminal defense lawyer who is prepared to help you fight your carjacking charges in Bergen County, Passaic County, or Hudson County. He has decades of experience representing clients in violent crime cases throughout NJ, so you can count on a strong defense in your carjacking case. Call or email Mr. Luciano now to schedule a free consultation.