In Minnesota, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has identified carjacking as an issue that they want to focus in the category of violent crimes, along with shootings, which seem to be plaguing Minnesota streets.
According to the office, the numbers of carjackings that have taken place so far in Minnesota in 2022 are unacceptable, leading to an erosion of safety in the community as a whole.
Many people don’t realize that carjacking is a federal crime. When you engage in a carjacking that involves the threat of violence or violence, then federal charges can be faced.
United States Code says that it’s unlawful for any person to take a motor vehicle which has been:
- Received in interstate or foreign commerce
- Transported from someone by an attempt to intimidate or use force and violence – or by actually intimidating someone and using force or violence with the intent of causing serious bodily harm or death
But, in order for a person to be charged with carjacking, it must be shown in court that the person accused took the vehicle by intimidation or by violence and force knowingly – and that they intended to cause serious harm or death to the driver in doing so.
It’s important to note that Minnesota itself does not have a carjacking statute. Rather, they charge carjacking as simple or aggravated robbery. However, with the interest of the U.S. Attorney in Minnesota, it can be assumed that, if a case fits the federal carjacking statute, it may be prosecuted on the federal level.
What Are the Penalties for Federal Carjacking?
Federal carjacking penalties can be steep. In fact, if you are convicted under the federal statute, then you can face up to 15 years in prison. You may also be asked to pay fines of as much as $250,000. If there was a death due to your actions when perpetrating a carjacking, then you can face life in prison or, in the worst case, the federal death penalty. You may also be asked to pay fines of as much as $250,000.
What Are Your Defenses?
If you are facing carjacking charges whether on the state or federal level, then you need an experienced attorney on your side to help you fight them. They can help you to understand all of the charges against you and formulate an appropriate defense.
While every case is different and involves a different set of circumstances, it’s important to understand the type of defenses people use in these situations. Some of the most common defenses employed against federal carjacking charges include:
No Crossing of State Boundaries
What makes a carjacking case federal is that the vehicle involved crossed over state or national lines. If this wasn’t the case, then you can’t be charged in federal court with the crime. However, the state can still prosecute you for the crime that took place under their laws.
Driver Wasn’t In Control
Another element that often becomes a focus in these cases is the idea that the vehicle was in the driver’s control or within proximity of the victim when it was taken. If that’s what happened, then federal carjacking cannot be charged, either. This is because you are required under the statute to take the vehicle by either intimidation or by force and violence. If that didn’t occur, then it may not have been carjacking.
About the Author:
Christopher Keyser is an AV-Preeminent rated criminal and DWI defense attorney based in Minneapolis who is known for fighting aggressively for his clients and utilizing innovative tactics to get the most positive results. He has been featured in numerous media outlets due to the breadth and depth of his knowledge and named a Certified Specialist in Criminal Law by the Minnesota Bar Association. Mr. Keyser is Lead Counsel rated, and he has received recognition for his criminal law work from Avvo, Expertise, Super Lawyers, The National Trial Lawyers, and more.