Stealing someone else’s car for a joyride or as a prank has its obvious criminal repercussions—stealing is wrong, and even if you return the car to its original owner, the crime of theft can be prosecuted. However, just as theft can become a robbery charge if you use force to obtain your stolen goods, stealing a car by force escalates the criminal charges from theft to carjacking, and in New Jersey, this crime is prosecuted with significant penalties and repercussions.
A carjacking charge can be the result of any of the following scenarios:
- You use bodily force to gain control of someone else’s vehicle.
- You threaten the vehicle’s owner, either by showing a weapon or claiming that you have one, or by threatening bodily harm.
- The vehicle owner is immediately fearful for his or her life or safety as a result of your actions.
- You commit a first-degree or second-degree crime (such as unlawful weapons possession or assault of a bystander) while taking another person’s vehicle.
- You take someone else’s vehicle, while the original occupants are still in the car.
Carjacking is a first-degree crime in New Jersey, and you may be subject to strict jail sentence minimums, with no access to early parole options if you are convicted. In many cases, carjacking is one of a series of charges, depending on the circumstances involved. If, for example, you were caught stealing someone’s car, and threatening the victim with a gun, you could be facing additional charges for unlawful possession of a weapon. In another example, if you cause physical harm to the victim, you could be charged with aggravated assault as well. This is why it’s critical to hire an Essex County carjacking attorney.
No Early Release Act
Because carjacking is a first-degree crime, and involves violence, convicted persons can be sentenced to prison for 10 to 30 years, and this sentence is subject to the No Early Release Act. The No Early Release Act is a criminal statute that prevents individuals convicted of certain crimes from applying for, or being granted, parole until at least 85% of their total prison sentence has been served.
Typically, these crimes are first- and second-degree crimes ranging from murder and manslaughter to aggravated assault and carjacking, among others. Although most criminals who are sentenced to a specific jail term only have to serve out one-third to one-half of their sentences before applying for parole, the No Early Release Act serves as an enhancement for a variety of more serious, violent crimes.
Get an Essex County Carjacking Lawyer Immediately
If you have been charged with carjacking, it’s important that you speak with an Essex County criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. In cases like these, where the penalties are extremely high for a convicted person, every action counts, and your freedom hangs in the balance. Scott Gorman of The Gorman Law Firm can help you build a case and defend yourself from potential long-term jail sentences and a lasting criminal record. For more information and a consultation on your case, call Scott Gorman today.