Kidnapping is a serious charge in California and described as taking and moving someone against their will by using force or fear. There are different forms of kidnapping charges that are more serious than others, such as aggravated kidnapping.
Basic kidnapping charges are prosecuted under California Penal Code 207. Aggravated kidnapping charges are covered under Penal Code 209 and apply in certain situations that will lead to more severe penalties if convicted. Carjacking charges are covered under Penal Code 215.
The court could use aggravated kidnapping charges for any kidnapping that starts with a carjacking, or for ransom or reward, leads to a sexual related offense, or causes bodily harm or death.
California Penal Code 209.5 is the statute defining kidnapping in the commission of carjacking, which is a form of aggravated kidnapping. A conviction could potential result in a life prison sentence.
You could face PC 209.5 kidnapping during carjacking charges in a situation when you move the victim a substantial distance that is past the point incidental to the carjacking - and it increased the risk of harm that was necessary for the carjacking.
An example of Penal Code 209.5 includes a situation where someone waits in a dark parking lot until the owner of the car they are watching approaches their car. When they open the door to get inside the car, they approach from behind and forces them inside over to the passenger seat while making threats of violence.
Once inside the car, the suspect decides to take the car owner with them, even though are attempting to escape the car. The suspect makes threats to hurt them if they don't cooperate and then drives away from the scene. In this scenario, the suspect could be charged and convicted of kidnapping during carjacking in violation of California Penal Code 209.5.
To give readers a better understanding of Penal Code 209.5, kidnapping during carjacking laws, our California criminal defense lawyers are providing an overview below.
Definition of PC 209.5 Kidnapping During Carjacking
California Penal Code 209.5 provides a definition for kidnapping during carjacking:
Anyone who, during the commission of a carjacking, kidnaps someone and the movement of the victim is beyond merely incidental to commission of the carjacking, and the victim is moved a substantial distance from the scene of the carjacking, and the movement of the victim increased the risk of harm above what was necessarily present in the crime of carjacking itself.
It should be noted that the kidnapping laws in California depend on moving someone without their consent, using force or fear. Aggravated kidnapping charges under PC 209 is not just moving a victim a substantial distance, but also requires that the movement substantially increased the risk of harm above and beyond the inherent underlying crime of carjacking.
In order to be convicted of Penal Code 209.5 kidnapping during carjacking, the prosecutor must be able to prove – beyond reasonable doubt – all the crucial factors listed under CALCRIM 1204 Criminal Jury Instructions:
- You committed a carjacking
- During the carjacking, you held or detained someone using force or fear
- You moved someone a substantial distance from the carjacking scene
- You moved someone with intent to facilitate carjacking, help escape, or prevent victim from sounding an alarm
- The victim didn't give consent to be moved
It should be noted a carjacking crime also occur in a situation where you just force a victim to give you their car keys, even if you don't remove the car. A related charge includes false imprisonment of a hostage to avoid arrest under California Penal Code 210.5.
Penalties for Penal Code 209.5
If you are convicted of Penal Code 290.5, you are facing a life in prison sentence - with possibility of parole. Additionally, kidnapping during carjacking is considered a violent felony – meaning it will count as a “strike” under California's three strikes law. A three strike case means you will be required to serve at least 85% of your sentence before you will be considered eligible for parole.
It's important to note you could also face additional penalties depending on the specific circumstances of your case. There are sentencing enhancements that might apply to your case.
For example, if you violate California Penal Code 12022.53, known as the "10-20-life use a gun and you're done'" law – you will be facing 10 years in a prison for use of the gun – 25 years if you fire the gun – and 25 years to life if you cause serious injury or death with the gun.
If the prosecutor is able to prove your PC 209.5 case was for the benefit of a gang, you will be facing addition time in prison under California Penal Code 186.22, known as the criminal street gang enhancement.
If you caused the victim great bodily injury during your kidnapping during carjack incident, you will be facing additional time under California Penal Code 12022.7, known as a great bodily injury enhancement.
Fighting Kidnapping During Carjacking Charges
If you have been accused of California Penal Code 209.5, our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers can use a range of strategies to obtain the best possible outcome on your case. Each case is unique and will first require a close examination of all the details in order to determine an appropriate plan.
Early intervention into your case by our law firm can have a dramatic impact on the outcome of your case. We have a track record of success in prefiling intervention where we might be able to avoid the formal filing of criminal charges. Of course, details matter in a serious case such any type of kidnapping allegation – which are serious charges.
We thoroughly review all the details and evidence in your case and then formulate a strategy moving forward. Some common defenses include:
- You didn't use force or fear to get the driver to ride with you
- The victim gave consent to be moved to another location
- The victim gave you consent to drive their vehicle
- You were only present at carjacking, but didn't participate
- You are the victim of mistaken identity and falsely accused
In situations where the evidence against you is strong, we may be able to negotiate a favorable plea bargain where you would be charged with a lesser offense with much lower penalties.
Eisner Gorin LLP is a top-ranked criminal defense law firm with a long track record of success. We are located at 1875 Century Park E #705, Los Angeles, CA 90067. We also have an office at 14401 Sylvan St #112 Van Nuys, CA 91401. Contact us for a case evaluation at (310) 328-3776.