For purposes of the law in Chicago, vehicular hijacking covers a range of vehicles, including boats. The key issues that arise when facing such a charge can be understood by looking at the example of a rather hapless Chicago teen who stole an SUV belonging to the FBI. There were several criminal matters arising out of that act that would all be considered during the trial.
First of all, the teenager was on probation and already had an extensive criminal record. The probation violations were dealt with as a separate issue but also one that could aggravate the crime despite the fact that the perpetrator was a minor. His lawyers inevitably wanted to minimize evidence of his past crimes as much as allowable under the current law.
Compounding and Relevant Factors
The court must consider the commission of the crime as well as the circumstances surrounding the incident. In this case, the car was unattended, but the defendant subsequently dragged the agent who was trying to apprehend him. Understandably and inevitably, no bail was granted given the criminal history of the defendant and the fact that he had been on probation for another offense.
The overarching or index offense is that of theft, but the violence and the circumstances elevate it to a vehicular hijacking. That attracts a more severe punishment than a plain theft depending on the amounts of money involved. In this case, a number of felony counts were considered and eventually put to the defendant as follows:
- Vehicular Hijacking
- Possession of a Stolen Vehicle
- Battery of a Peace Officer
- Aggravated Versions of the First Three Crimes
One of the things that is most noticeable about this charge sheet is how the offenses follow one another and support each other. It is not unusual for the prosecution to combine offenses in this way on different accounts. First of all, it helps with clarity. Second, it ensures that the defendant is automatically convicted by evidence from lesser or higher charges.
Ultimately, the aim of the prosecutor is to convict the defendant on all or at least most of the serious counts. This may seem an unfair exploitation of the process, but it is part of the accepted practices in the Chicago jurisdiction. However, the defense attorney can also use the charge sheet like a shopping list in that the defendant can admit to lesser charges in order to avoid the more serious charges.
Beyond the Problem Teenagers
The facts of this case may not always be applicable, but they offer an insight into how trials for vehicular hijacking are conducted and some of the indicative offenses that might arise in the interim. The fact that the agent suffered injuries on his body is an aggravating feature.
Under the law, there will be certain indicators and features that will generally direct the trial, including the following:
- The manner in which the vehicle was obtained
- Whether or not anybody was injured
- The risk that the incident posed to the general public
- The overall losses arising from the incident including the cost of the vehicle
Those issues apply whether you are accused of stealing an SUV or a boat. It is the alternative facts that might upgrade or downgrade the offences accordingly. These are merely principles that can be applied in the different contexts in which similar offenses are committed.
Those who are charged with these offenses or would like some legal advice on similar issues can contact David Freidberg Attorney at Law at telephone number 312-560-7100. A deep and technical understanding of the issues involved will be critical in determining the outcome of the eventual case and the likelihood of being acquitted.
(image courtesy of Chris Lawton)