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Carjacking – when auto theft turns violent

On Behalf of | Nov 24, 2023 | Criminal Defense, Felonies, Violent Crimes |

In South Carolina, stealing another person’s car is a larceny offense. The penalties for such a crime depend on the stolen vehicle’s price, with the lightest sentence possible being 30 days in jail and a $1,000 fine for a vehicle worth $2,000 or less.

However, a violator could face even harsher penalties if they had instead committed the offense of carjacking. Carjacking is a serious offense in South Carolina, more than regular auto theft. Decades of prison time await those convicted.

Carjacking is a felony

According to state rules, a person commits the offense of carjacking if they take, or attempt to take, a motor vehicle from another person who’s still inside the automobile, either through force or intimidation.

Carjacking is different from regular auto theft in that there’s an element of violence involved. Compared to ordinary auto theft, carjacking occurs within the immediate presence of the vehicle’s owner – whose life may have been threatened by the offender.

Penalties for carjacking

If a court convicts a person of carjacking, they face imprisonment for up to 20 years. However, if the person causes great bodily injury to another person during the offense, a conviction instead leads to up to 30 years of imprisonment.

The convicted person may also face penalties for a conviction for using a vehicle without permission if they used the stolen car to drive away from the scene of the offense. The offense is a misdemeanor, carrying up to three years of prison time.

Those facing carjacking charges shouldn’t assume they’ll face the same penalties as those convicted of ordinary auto theft. That element of violence is more than enough to push the offense into felony territory and causing great bodily injury only adds to the punishments on conviction. They’ll want to speak with a legal professional before their hearing to learn how they should proceed with their case.