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Is Carjacking a Federal Crime?

Posted on April 10, 2022 in

Carjacking is unfortunately quite a regular occurrence in large cities across the United States. Texas is not excluded from this list, as cities such as Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio see their fair share of carjackings. At any rate, there is a great deal of confusion in regards to the differences between state and federal law. This is just one of the many reasons why people turn to Houston criminal defense attorneys, as to better manage their cases in the face of hefty fines and prison time. The Law Office of David A. Beston has all the up-to-date information regarding criminal law and carjacking in the state of Texas.

Vehicle Theft vs. Carjacking

It will come as no surprise to learn that automobile theft is illegal and carries many penalties in the state of Texas. According to state law, vehicle theft occurs when somebody else’s automobile is taken without their consent. This can occur in a number of situations, including with the initial consent of the owner with the understanding that it will be returned, via hotwiring of the car, or through the help of an accomplice. Even in the case in which the car is eventually abandoned, the offense of robbery still stands.

This crime is spelled out under Texas Penal Code 31.03 (2020) and carries a number of penalties. For the robbery of an automobile, penalties range anywhere from a class C misdemeanor to a first-degree felony, with the latter being a more serious crime. In certain, less common cases, the robbery of a vehicle valued between $30,000 and $150,000 may carry a third-degree felony charge.

Carjacking in the Eyes of State and Federal Authorities

This crime varies slightly with carjacking. Carjacking is an instance in which a car is taken from its owner with the threat of force. This is usually considered a more serious crime as it involves direct threats made to the victim. This crime is perceived to be even more severe if a weapon is involved. Texas does not have a specific carjacking statute and is otherwise prosecuted under the category of a robbery. This offense is a second-degree felony and carries hefty fines and imprisonment. Aggravated robbery, on the other hand, is a first-degree felony in which the convicted may face up to 99 years in prison.

Carjacking may also be considered a federal crime under certain circumstances. This is usually the case when the motor vehicle in question has been transported across country or state lines. With the inclusion of multiple states’ penal codes and statutes, the charge is delegated to the federal courts. It is a strong possibility that a federal carjacking crime carries more serious penalties than its state-restricted counterpart.

Defending Against Carjacking Charges in Houston

In any case, the prosecution’s proof has the potential to be argued by the defense. In many cases, the accused may have not actually crossed state or country lines. Furthermore, the alleged victim may have not been within the proximity of the alleged offender at the time of the robbery. Other defenses may concern the topics of consent and intent. No matter the situation, it is highly recommended that a Houston criminal defense attorney is utilized in order to ensure that you are not wrongfully punished by the legal system. To contact one of our lawyers at the Law Office of David A. Breston, please call us at 713-804-6492 or click here where you will be able to get in contact with a representative.