Carjacking rarely happens like it is portrayed in the movies. Instead, carjacking is more likely to be the result of an argument with friends or family where one person attempts to leave in someone else’s vehicle (out of anger) and causes an injury or threatens to cause an injury when the victim tries to stop them. Nevertheless, carjacking is a very serious offense. Carjacking is a crime of the first degree in New Jersey but carries an enhanced jail term of between 10 and 30 years in prison (typically, first degree crimes are 10 to 20 years in jail). Additionally, because of the violent nature of this charge, the Ocean County Prosecutor will seek pretrial detention through the mechanism known as a Detention Hearing. Under the new Bail Reform Guidelines, defendants may no longer post bail. If the prosecutor files for a detention hearing and wins, then you will spend the entire time period leading up to your trial behind bars.
Carjacking charges require the skill of a seasoned criminal trial attorney. Seek out and obtain the right type of representation. Carjacking charges in Ocean County will be prosecuted with the full force and resources of the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office. Do not let them steamroll you into a guilty plea. Contact the Toms River criminal trial attorneys at 848-238-2100.
Elements of Carjacking Charge
Before a judge or jury will convict a defendant of carjacking, the following elements must be proven by the prosecutor:
That the defendant was in the course of committing an unlawful taking of a motor vehicle; and
That while in the course of committing an unlawful taking of a motor vehicle the defendant:
knowingly inflicted bodily injury or used force upon an occupant or person in possession or control of a motor vehicle; or
knowingly threatened an occupant or person in control with, or purposely or knowingly put an occupant or person in control of the motor vehicle in fear of, immediate bodily injury; or
committed or knowingly threatened immediately to commit a first or second degree crime; or
knowingly operated or caused said vehicle to be operated with the person who was in possession or control or was an occupant of the motor vehicle at the time of the taking remaining in the vehicle.
An “unlawful taking of a motor vehicle” is defined as the taking, operation or exercise of control over the motor vehicle, without consent of the owner or other person authorized to give consent, with the purpose of either permanently depriving the owner of the motor vehicle or temporarily withholding the motor vehicle from the owner or other person in control of the motor vehicle.
Mental State and the Word “Purposely”
In addition to the actus reus (the “act”) the State must demonstrate the necessary mens reus (the “mental state”) of the defendant. Under the carjacking statute, there are two possible forms of mens reus: “purposely” and “knowingly”.
A person acts purposely with respect to the nature of his/her conduct or a result thereof if it is his/her conscious object to engage in conduct of that nature or to cause such a result. A person acts “purposely” with respect to attendant circumstances if he/she is aware of the existence of such circumstances or he/she believes or hopes that they exist.
A person acts knowingly with respect to the nature of his/her conduct or the attendant circumstances if the person is aware that the conduct is of that nature or that such circumstances exist or the person is aware of a high probability of their existence. A person acts knowingly with respect to a result of the conduct if the person is aware that it is practically certain that the conduct will cause such a result.
How Long Will I go to Jail for Carjacking?
That depends on a lot of factors. Statutorily, the judge must sentencing you to a prison term between 10 and 30 years in a New Jersey State Penitentiary, if convicted. Furthermore, a minimum of 5 years must be served before becoming parole eligible. Call our Point Pleasant office and speak to a criminal sentencing attorney to determine if and for how long you could be going to prison for your carjacking charges. We will assist clients in any town through Ocean County and may be reached day and night at 848-238-2100.
Our phones are answered 24 hours a day. We are available weekdays during business hours. We also meet with clients on evenings and weekends by request. All major credit cards are accepted.