Recently, deputies working out of the Santa Clarita Sheriff Station detained someone in relation to a carjacking that happened in early June. During the incident, the victim was shot but survived. The detainee was a 20-year-old man from Lancaster. Investigators questioned him about his involvement in the carjacking but did not end up arresting him.
After the June 7th incident, a 16-year-old suspect was arrested at the scene while two others fled. Both of those suspects have yet to be apprehended.
Carjacking is covered under California Penal Code 215 PC and is described as taking a vehicle from someone else by use of force or fear. This crime is similar to grand theft auto, but there is a key difference. For someone to be charged with grand theft auto, they must steal a vehicle from the rightful owner while intending to deprive them of its use for a prolonged period of time (usually forever, but not always). Carjacking, on the other hand, is taking a vehicle while people are inside, using force or fear to coerce them into giving up the vehicle.
It doesn’t matter if the person inside is the driver or a passenger, and they don’t need to be the owner of the vehicle. According to the definition of PC 215, it’s technically possible to be charged with the offense even if the vehicle is stolen.
California Penal Code 215 is always considered a felony. The punishments include up to one year in county jail and probation, or in more serious cases, up to 9 years in California state prison and a fine of up to $10,000. If the suspect causes another person to suffer great bodily injury (in the case above, the victim was shot in the abdomen) California Penal Code 12022.7 PC, California’s sentence enhancement law can kick in. If so, the defendant faces an additional 3 to 6 years in prison to be served consecutively in addition to the penalty from the carjacking conviction.