Under California Penal Code 215, “Carjacking” is the felonious taking of a motor vehicle in the possession of another, from his or her person or immediate presence, or from the person or immediate presence of a passenger of the motor vehicle, against his or her will and with the intent to either permanently or temporarily deprive the person in possession of the motor vehicle of his or her possession, accomplished by means of force or fear. What this means is that it is a felony to forcefully steal someone else’s car while in their presence or the presence of a passenger. This is different than breaking into a car and stealing it while it is unoccupied.

If convicted of carjacking, you can be punished by up to nine years in prison. However, robbery can also be charged.

Several affirmative defenses are available and it is important to consult with an attorney to devise your strategy going forward in your case.


If you are facing a carjacking charge, the prosecutors must prove your case beyond a reasonable doubt.

If convicted, you may face the following penalties:

  • Imprisonment of 3, 5, or 9 years
  • Probation
  • Strike on record
  • Fines and Fees
  • Restitution


To prove that the defendant is guilty of carjacking, the People must prove that:

  1. The defendant took a motor vehicle that was not (his/her) own;
  2. The vehicle was taken from the immediate presence of a person who possessed the vehicle or was its passenger;
  3. The vehicle was taken against that person’s will;
  4. The defendant used force or fear to take the vehicle or to prevent that person from resisting; AND
  5. When the defendant used force or fear to take the vehicle, (he/she) intended to deprive the other person of possession of the vehicle either temporarily or permanently.

The defendant’s intent to take the vehicle must have been formed before or during the time (he/she) used force or fear. If the defendant did not form this required intent until after using the force or fear, then (he/she) did not commit carjacking.

A person takes something when he or she gains possession of it and moves it some distance. The distance moved may be short.

[An act is done against a person’s will if that person does not consent to the act. In order to consent, a person must act freely and voluntarily and know the nature of the act.]

[Two or more people may possess something at the same time.]

[A person does not have to actually hold or touch something to possess it. It is enough if the person has (control over it/ [or] the right to control it), either personally or through another person.]

[Fear, as used here, means fear of (injury to the person himself or herself[,]/ [or] injury to the person’s family or property[,]/ [or] immediate injury to someone else present during the incident or to that person’s property).]

[A vehicle is within a person’s immediate presence if it is sufficiently within his or her control so that he or she could keep possession of it if not prevented by force or fear.]

If you are facing a carjacking case, the burden is on the prosecutors to prove you are guilty of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Call 714-248-DOAN(3626) to speak with a Southern California criminal attorney today.