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Did you know carjacking is not just a state crime?

When most people hear the term carjacking, they invariably imagine the unfortunate scenario in which a person's vehicle is stolen after they are either forcibly removed, or coerced to exit it due to the threat of bodily harm. They may also envision it as being a purely state crime, meaning those brought up on carjacking charges will be tried in the Florida court system.

While this is technically correct, it's important to understand that the crime of carjacking is also prohibited under federal law. However, as we'll outline below, it targets a somewhat different type of conduct.

What exactly does the federal carjacking law prohibit?     

The federal carjacking statute outlaws the taking of "a motor vehicle that has been transported, shipped, or received in interstate or foreign commerce from the person or presence of another by force and violence or by intimidation, or attempts to do so" with "the intent to cause death or serious bodily harm."

By way of illustration, envision someone stealing a vintage car from the back of a truck at gunpoint while it was in transit to a buyer located in another state.

What then are the elements of a carjacking offense under this federal law?

The following elements will need to be proven in order for a person to be convicted of a federal carjacking offense:

  • The defendant intended to cause serious bodily harm or death
  • The defendant took a motor vehicle from a person or the presence of another person
  • The defendant took a motor vehicle through the use of intimidation, violence or force
  • The motor vehicle taken had been shipped, received or other transported in interstate or foreign commerce

We'll continue examining this federal law in our next post, looking at its penalties and at the notion of it somehow being connected to interstate commerce.

If you are under investigation or have been charged with any manner of federal offense -- whether related to drugs, weapons, finances or violence -- consider speaking with a skilled legal professional as soon as possible.

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