If you or a loved one find yourselves in a difficult situation, we understand the urgency and stress that comes with it. At Angels Bail Bonds, we specialize in providing the support and assistance needed to secure bail for felony carjacking charges.
Learn the basics about the bail process for a felony carjacking charge, and then contact Angels Bail Bonds today. Let us be your trusted partner in navigating the bail process for felony carjacking charges. We are here to help you regain your freedom and prepare for your legal journey.
What Is Bail?
Bail in California refers to the amount of money or property that a defendant or their surety (a person responsible for the defendant’s appearance in court) must deposit with the court to secure the defendant’s release from custody while awaiting trial.
The purpose of bail is to ensure that the defendant appears in court for all scheduled hearings and does not flee before the trial. A county bail schedule or table determines bail amounts, but a judge can deviate from the schedule based on various factors, including the severity of the offense, the defendant’s criminal history, and whether the defendant is a risk to public safety. If the defendant fails to appear in court, the bail is forfeited, and a warrant may be issued for their arrest.
What Are Bail Bonds?
When you find yourself in a situation where you can’t afford to pay for your bail, bail bonds might be the solution for you. A bail bondsman will charge you a fee in exchange for providing the payment. Bail bond companies in California charge only 10% of the total bail amount to post-bond for a defendant. So, if the cost of bail is $20,000, the bondsman will charge $2,000 instead of the full amount. While this may still seem like a lot of money, it’s much more affordable than paying the entire bail amount, especially on extremely high bail amounts for some serious felonies.
Those rates can be as high as 20% for some immigration and federal charges because these rates are set by law, and all bail companies must charge the same amount. Despite the costs, using a bail bondsman can be a lifesaver for those who cannot afford to be released from custody on bail or need any help navigating the bail process.
What Happens At A Bail Hearing?
A crucial part of the bail process is the hearing, when the amount of bail is normally set at the person’s initial court appearance, often known as the arraignment stage or pre-trial detention. A judge can either release a person on their own recognizance (OR) with a promise to appear in court at a later date or deny their OR.
If the charges are infraction offenses or even some misdemeanor offenses—such as a DUI with no accident injuries or significant property damage— the person will usually be released without bail after being arrested. More serious felony charges that might mean a danger to public safety, like assault with a deadly weapon, carjacking with bodily injury to the victim, or even murder, will not have OR as an option and will only be released from custody on bail.
You must pay the bail amount or post a bail bond on the bail schedule. An arresting officer might ask for a higher bail amount than what the schedule suggests.
What Factors Influence a Defendant’s Bail Amount?
The bail bond process starts when a defendant is in front of a judge to determine bail. Then, several factors are put into play, including the severity of the crime, criminal history, whether the defendant is a flight risk, community ties, financial resources, their potential danger to public safety, and even mental health are considered when determining bail amount.
The bail schedule further gives guidance for all criminal charges, with the judge having some leeway in the specific amounts, as mentioned. And even if they’re allowed out on bail, the defendant might have to be placed under house arrest, be prohibited from owning any deadly weapons or placed under electronic monitoring.
A good bail bonds company and a criminal defense attorney can help you navigate and understand these factors, possibly even lowering the bail amount.
Have You Been Charged With Criminal Felony Carjacking Pc 215?
If you’ve been charged with a criminal offense, you or a loved one must contact the experts at Angels Bail Bonds immediately. Our team of bail bondsmen and criminal defense lawyers provide assistance during pre-trial detention at no extra cost, including nationwide.
What is Felony Carjacking?
The crime of carjacking can be described in simple terms as being a theft in which the perpetrator takes someone else’s motor vehicle, which is personal property, against their will by using force or fear in their presence.
We can find the exact definition of carjacking in California Penal Code 215, which states:
(a) “Carjacking” is the felonious taking of a motor vehicle in the possession of another, from his or her person or immediate presence, or from the person or immediate presence of a passenger of the motor vehicle, against his or her will and with the intent to either permanently or temporarily deprive the person in possession of the motor vehicle of his or her possession, accomplished by means of force or fear.
(b) Carjacking is punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for a term of three, five, or nine years.
(c) This section shall not be construed to supersede or affect Section 211. A person may be charged with a violation of this section and Section 211. However, no defendant may be punished under this section and Section 211 for the same act which constitutes a violation of both this section and Section 211.
It is distinct from simply petty theft because the crime of carjacking involves force, violence, fear, and threat to the rightful owner of their vehicle. The penal code, in PC 212, further details what qualifies as fear to prove a carjacking charge:
- The fear of an unlawful injury to the person or property of the person robbed, or of any relative of his or member of his family; or,
- The fear of an immediate and unlawful injury to the person or property of anyone in the company of the person robbed at the time of the theft.
All carjacking convictions are felonies in California and are punishable by up to nine years in state prison and $10,000 in fines. The penalties can be harsher in a carjacking conviction if there was bodily injury to the vehicle owner or if a firearm was involved in the crime, along with other factors. This is called the great bodily injury sentencing enhancement, where a period of time of up to six years in jail can be added to a carjacking conviction. A variety of sentencing enhancements can be applied to either grand theft auto, carjacking, or the crime of robbery.
The prosecuting attorney must establish the following element of the crime for a carjacking conviction:
- The defendant unlawfully appropriated another individual’s property.
- The victim had lawful possession of the vehicle at the time of the theft
- The defendant took the vehicle in the victim’s immediate presence.
- The act of taking the vehicle was done against the victim’s will.
- The evidence shows the defendant employed force or instilled fear of unlawful injury to prevent the victim from resisting.
- The defendant either permanently took the vehicle or retained it for a duration sufficient to deprive the owner of a substantial portion of its value.
Types of Felony Carjacking Charges in California
California Penal Code 212.5 specifies that carjacking will always be a felony, with the circumstances determining the prison time.
There are also two other property crimes or theft offenses related to vehicles.
Grand Theft Auto
Petty theft is the unlawful taking of someone else’s property worth less than $950, while grand theft is taking property worth more than $950, so grand theft auto is taking a vehicle. Auto theft is almost always a felony and is punished by a period of time in the county jail or state prison, typically a few months or a year. But cases of grand theft auto can transition to felony carjacking charges if the victim is present at the moment of the theft and conscious of it, inducing fear or the threat of violence into the vehicle owner and thus complying with the definition of carjacking.
Another similar theft offense to the crime of carjacking is burglary. A burglary is defined by PC 459 as entering a property, structure, or locked vehicle with the criminal intent of committing either grand theft, petty theft, or any other felony offense. While it’s easier to prove criminal intent and burglary if there’s evidence of forced entry, it doesn’t matter if there’s no forced entry or if the home, car, truck or even storage container is unlocked. As long as evidence shows a person had the intent to commit petty theft, grand theft, or another felony offense, it’s burglary.
A burglary can then become a carjacking felony charge if they attempt to commit grand or petty theft while someone is in the property and the property owner resists the attempted theft. In other words, if caught in the act of grand or petty theft by the owner of the property and then threatens physical harm or induces fear, then a carjacking charge will also apply.
Penalties in Felony Carjacking Cases
Felony carjacking is the theft or unlawful taking of someone else’s motor vehicle via force, fear, or other threats. It can be punished with up to nine years in state prison or more if other felonies are committed during the act (causing bodily injury, sexual assault, etc.)
Under California Penal Code 215 (PC 215), carjacking is considered a felony offense. If convicted of carjacking in California by the public defender, the defendant may face severe penalties, including:
- Imprisonment: The court may sentence the defendant to imprisonment in the state prison, not county jail, for a term of three, five, or nine years.
- Strike Under California’s Three Strikes Law: Carjacking is considered a serious felony offense under California’s Three Strikes Law. If the defendant has prior felony convictions or a criminal record for serious or violent crimes, a carjacking conviction may count as a “strike” and result in enhanced penalties. A second strike can double the sentence, while convicts with a third strike can result in a mandatory sentence of 25 years to life.
- Fines: In addition to imprisonment, the court may impose fines as a penalty for carjacking. The exact amount of the fine will vary depending on the circumstances of the case, but it can be substantial.
- Restitution: The court may order the defendant to pay restitution to the victim for any financial losses suffered as a result of the carjacking and motor vehicle theft. This can include the value of the stolen vehicle, medical expenses, and any other related costs.
It is important to note that the penalties mentioned are general guidelines, and the actual penalties can vary depending on the specific sentencing enhancements of the case, the defendant’s criminal history, and the judge’s discretion.
A case of grand theft can quickly worsen into a carjacking conviction if there’s suddenly a fear of injury on the vehicle owner’s part and then turn into a violent felony if the case actually results in physical injury. In that case, the PC 12022.7 sentencing enhancement clause is used to add more imprisonment for a period of time of up to six years.
Another sentencing enhancement, PC 120022.53, applies if a firearm is used. When the defendant is found to have employed a firearm, then an additional 10 to 20 years of prison time can be added to the sentence. In fact, using a firearm during a carjacking that also results in great bodily injury or even death leads to life in prison.
Consulting with an experienced legal expert like a bail bondsman or carjacking defense lawyer is crucial for a strong defense and understanding the potential penalties one may face for second-degree carjacking in California and for preventing a simple case from worsening.
You Need An Experienced Bail Bond Agent That Specializes In Felony Carjacking Defense
The bail bond process for a felony carjacking charge is serious and without expert help at your side, as the standard bail for felony carjacking is $100,000 to $500,000. Nonetheless, a bail bond company and a criminal defense attorney can aid you during this difficult time and help you and your loved one obtain that money.
Common Defenses Against Carjacking Convictions
A successful carjacking conviction means that the prosecution had evidence that the defendant used force or fear for theft, which is taking the victim’s vehicle against their will. What that force means is where a possible defense might come from or if there was fear of injury when taking the vehicle. For example, fear can involve coercion or intimidation with just words, a firearm, or other psychological ways to give up property.
A criminal defense attorney representing someone charged with the crime of carjacking in California may employ several possible defenses to carjacking charges. A strong defense might be to argue the defendant had consent to drive the vehicle and there was no fear of injury involved. Simply not returning the car on time or later threatening the driver is not the same as a carjacking situation, and the case can’t go forward.
There could also be an argument of mistaken identity, asserting that the prosecution has not provided sufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that their client is the actual perpetrator of the crime.
The carjacking lawyer could also prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant did not use force or fear and could lower the charges to simple petty theft, which is a misdemeanor.
Another defense strategy could be a lack of intent. The attorney may argue that the defendant did not have the specific intent to permanently deprive the owner of their vehicle. They may present evidence showing that the defendant had no intention of keeping the car and may have only taken it temporarily, such as for joyriding or to escape a dangerous situation, which leads to a lower prison sentence. This defense aims to undermine the prosecution’s claim that the defendant committed a carjacking with the intent to permanently steal the vehicle.
The defense attorney could also explore defenses such as duress, where there’s evidence the defendant was compelled to commit the crime of carjacking under threat of harm. Ultimately, the specific defenses employed will depend on the unique circumstances of the case and the evidence available.
Negotiation with the prosecutor may lead to charge dismissal, charge reductions, plea bargains, or alternatives to prosecution, including early disposition court or pretrial diversion.
Free Consultation & Case Review
Do you know someone who has been arrested for felony carjacking? Look no further because we are here to help. At Angel Bail Bonds, we work with experienced bail bondsmen and criminal defense attorneys to be your best option, even in cases where you need bail for theft or felony carjacking. We offer flexible payment plans and affordable rates to make the process more manageable for you and your loved ones. If you have any questions about how bail laws and the bail bond process work or if you need assistance helping a loved one in Los Angeles, Orange County, or anywhere else in California, don’t hesitate to call us today.