Car Jacking

Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 265 Section 21A makes carjacking a crime in Massachusetts. The law states that anyone who assaults, confines, maims or puts in someone in fear for the purpose of stealing a motor vehicle is guilty of carjacking. If the offense is committed by someone who is armed with a firearm he is guilty of aggravated carjacking. The punishment for aggravated carjacking is significantly greater than it is for carjacking without being armed.

The Massachusetts Carjacking statute was passed into law in 1992. It was legislated in large part as a result of a rash of nationwide violent motor vehicle thefts. The law was trendy at the time of its passage and carjacking complaints and indictments were frequent. Over the next two decades this changed significantly to the point where carjacking is now a rare crime in Massachusetts.

How is Carjacking Defined in Massachusetts?

To prove someone guilty of carjacking in Massachusetts the district attorney must two things to the jury beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • It must be proven that the defendant intended to steal a motor vehicle. An intent refers to a person’s desire to permanently deprive the owner of the motor vehicle.

  • It must be proven that the defendant assaulted or confined or maimed or put the victim in fear for the purpose of stealing the motor vehicle. Any restraint of someone’s liberty amounts to confinement.

There is no need to prove that the defendant succeeded in stealing the motor vehicle. A failed attempt will suffice.

The elements of aggravated carjacking are the same as for carjacking except that the prosecutor must also prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was armed with a dangerous weapon. Any object that is not inherently a dangerous weapon can be deemed to be a dangerous weapon if the jury finds that it was used in that fashion. The essential question to ask when an object is not dangerous per se is whether the object, as used by the defendant, is capable of producing serious bodily harm. Massachusetts Appellate Courts have ruled that human body parts cannot be considered dangerous weapons.

I was Charged With Carjacking in Massachusetts. Is There a Change That I Will go to Jail?

The severity of the crime suggests that anyone convicted of carjacking will likely be sentenced to a penal institution of some type. This decision lies with the judge and good lawyering improves your chances of acquittal or avoiding jail. However, the crime of carjacking is punishable by up to fifteen years in state prison. Prosecutors can choose to keep these cases in the District Courts where the maximum sentence will be 2 ½ years in the County House of Correction. Aggravated carjacking can only be prosecuted in the Superior Courts. There is a five year minimum sentence that must be imposed for aggravated carjacking.

If you have been charged with carjacking, aggravated carjacking, other violent crimes or any crime in Massachusetts the services and expertise of a lawyer like Stephen Neyman should be considered. Our office has over 20 years defending crimes such as these throughout Massachusetts and other parts of the country. Call us now at 617-263-6800 or contact us online.

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