An Atlanta college student was shot in the legs and chest after a carjacking attempt that took place at a gas station. The Morehouse College student was reportedly seen confronting another person who was attempting to steal a parked car. That is when witnesses say shots were fired from another nearby vehicle. The suspects then fled the scene and the injured man was taken to the hospital.
Georgia laws enforce strict penalties for those accused of carjacking or auto theft. Although either of these crimes carries the possibility of a fine and prison sentence, there are several possible defenses to the charges that you may be facing.
Theft of a Motor Vehicle
Georgia laws contain statutes specific for carjacking offenses, but they do not have statutes devoted specifically to non-violent theft of a vehicle. Instead, this non-violent theft is charged under a general statute for theft by taking. This is the unlawful taking of another individual’s property.
Just as statutes do not specifically address non-violent theft of a vehicle, nor do the penalties address non-violent theft of an automobile. Instead, there are a range of punishments that a judge may apply when someone is found guilty of such crimes. If the vehicle stolen is used for commercial transportation, the prison time can range from three to 10 years and a fine can be given for up to $50,000. If a non-commercial vehicle is stolen, the penalty can be anywhere from one to 20 years in prison and a fine of $25,000 or even more.
Carjacking and Penalties
Carjacking in Georgia is defined as taking a vehicle from another individual using force, violence, or intimidation while using a firearm or other weapon. Carjacking may also be the charge if a person conspires or attempts to take a vehicle by intimidation or force.
Penalties for carjacking may include a prison sentence of up to 20 years in prison and a fine up to $100,000. If the defendant has had prior convictions for carjacking, the penalty may increase to a life sentence in prison and up to a $500,000 fine. The increased penalties may also be utilized if the prior carjacking offense took place in states other than Georgia.
Defenses to Carjacking and Motor Vehicle Theft
Just like other theft charges, there are some defenses that may be available for theft involving motor vehicles. For example, the defendant may argue that the victim of the crime gave them permission to use and possess the vehicle. It may also be possible to prove that one or more of the elements required for the offense have not been proven. For example, in carjacking, the prosecutor may not be able to prove that the defendant was in possession of a weapon.
Consult with an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney
If you are facing theft of a motor vehicle or carjacking charges in Georgia, you need to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. The penalties for such crimes can be extensive and life-altering. The attorneys at Lankford & Moore Law have decades of experience helping ensure that their clients’ rights are protected. Contact them today to schedule a consultation.