A man said he was in his vehicle watching videos on his phone when three people approached him and demanded his keys. The man exited the vehicle with his keys and ran into a nearby Walmart. The suspects fled in the opposite direction but have since been tracked down by West Palm Beach police. They now face charges of carjacking. Police also said that an hour later, a victim was shot and killed in a carjacking attempt. Police believe that the group performed both carjackings, but no charges have been filed in the second case that included a murder.
The 24-year-old female is facing charges of being a principal to a carjacking, burglar, and assault and battery. Police are asking anyone with information on the second carjacking to come forward.
Carjacking ain’t like it used to be. Today, most vehicles have tracking and can be shut down remotely by the vehicle’s service center. That means that the potential payoff for jacking a car is not the car itself, but the thrill of stealing it. In other words, people are getting adrenaline highs from terrorizing others and stealing their property. The issue is compounded by the fact that many of the perpetrators are minors. This is by design. It teaches them the ins and outs of using violence and intimidation to commit crimes and they are unlikely to face significant prison time because they are minors. The problem has grown worse since the pandemic as most major cities are reporting an uptick in carjackings, retail theft, and other crimes. In many cases, it’s juveniles who are principally responsible for these crimes.
Carjacking qualifies for a mandatory minimum sentence of 21 months in state prison. In other words, the judge must sentence anyone who pleads guilty to the offense for 21 months. The maximum penalty for carjacking is 30 years in prison. To qualify for a 21-month sentence, no weapon could have been involved in the attempt. This is rarely the case.
The woman has also been charged with a burglary which is likewise a first-degree felony. This charge is likely to be dropped because there is a significant overlap with carjacking and it would amount to being charged twice with the same crime. The prosecutor may be able to argue that attempted carjacking is one crime and unlawful access to the vehicle (burglary) is a second crime, but they would have to establish that the vehicle was actually accessed by the culprits. The assault and battery charges are negligible when compared to the penalty structure of burglary or carjacking.
When a firearm is used during a carjacking, the mandatory minimum sentence is 10 years. If anyone is injured or killed, the mandatory minimum is 25 years plus the murder charge.
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