Two Chicago teens have been charged with carjacking and threatening to shoot the woman whose vehicle they stole. The incident occurred on the Southwest side of Chicago. The teens are accused of pulling a 58-year-old woman from her vehicle, threatening to shoot her, and then driving away with her car. Police were able to track down the vehicle less than two hours later. They arrested one of the teens at that time.
While both assailants are under the age of 18, the older of the two, a 17-year-old, is facing charges for vehicular hijacking and aggravated robbery. The 15-year-old is facing one count of criminal trespass to a vehicle. Both teens will make their first appearance in juvenile court, but the 17-year-old is likely to be charged as an adult for violently depriving someone else of their property.
What is Vehicular Hijacking?
Essentially, unlawful access to a vehicle is considered burglary. However, Illinois law has a provision for armed entry into a vehicle that the assailant knows is occupied but another person. This is called vehicular hijacking or carjacking. In Illinois, vehicular hijacking is charged as a class 1 felony, whereas burglary is generally only charged as a class-2 felony. Class-2 felonies have sentences of up to seven years behind bars while class-1 felonies have sentences of up to 15 years. The teen will also be facing charges related to aggravated battery which is a class-2 felony.
Because there is an element of direct violence that is not implied by the crime of burglary, carjacking is charged one degree higher than other types of burglary charges. The older teen faces a maximum sentence of 22 years behind bars if he is convicted of both vehicular hijacking and aggravated battery.
Defenses to Carjacking
Carjacking is one of those crimes that do not have a lot of defenses. Consider firstly that most carjackings leave a witness. While the witness is likely terrified, they will not forget the face that dragged them from their car. Secondly, once the defendant has the car in their possession, they immediately begin leaving fingerprints and touch DNA all over the vehicle. This ties them directly to the crime. A defense attorney would have to overcome the witness statement and the trail left in the vehicle by the defendant. That is no easy task.
Lastly, most carjackings involve a weapon. The weapon can also be traced back to the defendant. So, defendants to carjacking charges often do not raise a substantial defense other than to say that their thought processes were compromised, usually by drug and alcohol abuse, which is not really a defense but will encourage a judge to be more lenient, possibly.
At any rate, those who steal vehicles that do not have passengers in them face substantially shorter sentences than those who drag drivers from vehicles.
Talk to a Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney
Call David Freidberg, Chicago criminal defense attorney, today at (312) 560-7100 to learn more about how we can help.