Carjacking As Defined in Florida Criminal Law

Carjacking, created by the Florida legislature in 1993, appears in Florida criminal statute 812.133. It has been included among the theft robbery and related crimes. Carjacking means the taking of a motor vehicle by force when the motor vehicle is occupied. Burglary, as carjacking, becomes a more serious crime in Florida because of the use of force and the presence of innocent victims. The essential difference between the crime of carjacking and auto theft is the taking by force of a vehicle which is occupied. In Florida an arrest for carjacking almost always results in a trial. Florida criminal defense attorneys find these cases always require trial because carjacking, like homicides, kidnapping, and drug trafficking in amounts over 2 kg are felony crimes punishable by 30 years in a Florida prison. During the mid-1990s Fort Lauderdale and Miami were plagued by carjacking crimes and the enhanced penalties were created largely in response to carjacking rings operating in Miami , Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. The rings were stealing cars, with people in it, killing or disposing of the occupants and then shipping the cars from the port of Miami or Fort Lauderdale to countries in Central and South America.

U.S. Federal Courts' Treatment of Carjacking in Florida

Carjacking is prosecuted in federal courts in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. Florida federal criminal defense attorneys will tell you that the crime of carjacking in federal court is only carjacking when the carjacking is a completed or attempted robbery of a motor vehicle by a stranger to the victim. There were over 49,000 carjacking crimes committed in the United States between the years of 1992 and 1996. Federal prosecutors in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach were targeting this increase in carjacking by employing a task force to find and prosecute carjacking in federal criminal court. For reasons not fully understood, carjacking in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach has declined significantly. This may be due to federal courts' being very proactive and aggressive in arresting and charging and convicting for carjacking in Florida, or it could simply be the reality that the economics of carjacking has changed.

Defending Carjacking Charges in Florida State and Federal Courts

Before a prosecutor in Florida State or Florida federal courts can obtain a conviction for carjacking the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt each and every element of carjacking. The elements include the use of force, a robbery or an attempted robbery, of the victim. Florida federal criminal attorneys have had great success in defending carjacking cases in federal court largely because federal defendants seem to be more careful to exercise their right to remain silent. A basic understanding of criminal law by defendants means the Florida criminal defense attorney, whether the attorney be specializing in federal crimes prosecuted in federal courts, or in Florida State courts, is less likely to have a defendant who has made a confession. Whether you are being charged in the Florida federal court or a Florida state court for the crime of carjacking, and drug trafficking, burglary, or theft, your basic rights to remain silent attach.