Carjacking continues to surge in Houston, and police have vowed to crack down on those who take another person’s vehicle. Although carjacking is a serious crime, there is no single “carjacking” statute. Instead, carjacking is prosecuted as a theft or robbery offense, and anyone accused of carjacking should hire an attorney with deep experience in this field.
At the Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates, we have defended many men and women accused of theft or robbery, including carjacking. We’ll review the charges against you in a free case evaluation.
Penalties for Carjacking
Most carjacking cases are prosecuted as theft, robbery, or aggravated robbery:
- Theft (Penal code § 31.03). Theft consists of unlawfully taking a person’s property with the intent to deprive them of it. Theft can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the value of the property. Given the price of used cars today, most theft will be charged as a state jail felony or third-degree felony.
- Robbery (Penal Code § 29.02). Robbery is defined as theft plus causing bodily injury or threatening someone with imminent bodily injury in the process. Robbery is a second-degree felony in Texas, which carries maximum penalties of 2-20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
- Aggravated robbery (Penal Code § 29.03). Robbery which causes serious bodily injury or is committed with a deadly weapon will qualify as aggravated robbery. This offense is first-degree felony, with penalties of 5-99 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Depending on the facts, you might instead be charged with Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle, Penal Code section 31.07. This statute does not require that you intend to deprive the owner of their property. It’s enough to operate a person’s motor vehicle intentionally or knowingly and without their consent. A conviction is a state jail felony, which can land you behind bars for 18 months or up to 2 years.
How We Defend Carjacking Charges
Tad Nelson’s team gets to work immediately reviewing the facts surrounding the alleged carjacking. These are often confusing events, and eyewitness testimony can differ considerably. We always consider the following:
- Consent. It’s not carjacking, theft, or unauthorized use of a vehicle if you had the owner’s consent to take the car.
- Lack of threats or injury. Robbery requires some sort of bodily injury or the threat to injure someone. If those were missing, then at most you are guilty of theft.
- Reasonable doubt. Often, there is dispute around the identity of the carjacker, especially if police don’t arrest you while driving the vehicle. Some witnesses are confused and can’t focus clearly when they see a gun or knife waved in their face.
Defending carjacking charges is difficult. This is a violent crime, so prosecutors are typically aggressive. However, we might be able to get a plea deal for reduced charges.
Speak with Our Houston Criminal Defense Lawyer Today
Violent crimes like robbery and aggravated robbery draw close scrutiny from prosecutors. We will do everything in our power to defend you against these charges. Contact us today to learn more.