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Carjacking and the issue of taking vehicle from person or the presence of the person

On Behalf of | Jun 23, 2022 | Firm News

An example of the taking of the car from the person or presence of the person can be shown by these set of facts below:

Defendant entered a shop, pointed a gun at the office manager, O, and demanded that she give him the keys to the shop owner’s truck, which was parked outside. O retrieved the keys that had been left by the owner and gave them to defendant. Defendant was convicted of carjacking and second degree robbery. However later it was reversed by the appellate court.

The carjacking statute was enacted to address the specific problem of taking a motor vehicle directly from its occupants. Although courts have expanded the reach of the statute beyond a vehicle’s occupants, to continue that expansion here would extend the statute to persons that the statute was not designed to protect.

The “possession” required by the statute may be constructive rather than actual, as in robbery cases. For employees the question is whether the employee has sufficient representative capacity with respect to the owner’s property to be in constructive possession of it. While the evidence here might suggest the requisite capacity, to hold that a carjacking occurred is still unwarranted. O, a store employee in the general vicinity of the owner’s keys, “does not fall within the category of persons that the carjacking statute was designed to protect.”

A carjacking may occur where neither the possessor nor the passenger is inside or adjacent to the vehicle. However, O was not within physical proximity to the truck, the keys she relinquished were not her own, and there was no evidence that she had been or would be a driver or passenger in the truck.

Here are some more scenarios where carjacking was found by the Courts:

“immediate presence” encompasses area in proximity to vehicle; actual physical possession by victim is not required.

Elements of carjacking were established where defendant took possession of victim’s car by threatening her and demanding her car keys even though victim was not present in parking lot when defendant drove off.

Car was taken from owner’s immediate presence by force and fear where defendant’s knife attack on owner, who was on pay phone five feet from car, caused owner and passenger to flee in fear leaving keys in vehicle; vehicle passenger had sufficient “possession” to be victim of carjacking. immediate presence requirement was met where attackers, returning approximately 10 or 20 minutes after beating victim and acquiring his car keys, took victim’s truck, which was parked approximately 10 feet away from victim who fearfully watched from his apartment.