Have you Been Charged with Hijacking a Motor Vehicle in Georgia?
Hijacking is considered a severe crime in Georgia. Hijacking has specific penalties and consequences, and it is crucial to have a Lawyer that is knowledgeable in the field of hijacking. Lawson and Berry and their team of Georgia Hijacking Attorneys are here for you if you or a loved one has been charged with the crime of hijacking. Do not wait to seek out a hijacking lawyer in Georgia because the consequences could be detrimental. Contact our offices today to find out more information and schedule a free consultation.
A person commits the offense of hijacking a motor vehicle when such person while in possession of a fireman or weapon obtains a motor vehicle from the person or presence of another by force and violence or intimidation or attempts or conspires to do so.
Elements of Hijacking
To commit the crime of hijacking, a weapon or firearm must be involved. A firearm includes handguns, rifles, shotguns, or a similar device, which is used to expel a projectile. Firearms include tasers and stun guns. Georgia law defines a weapon as “an object, device, or instrument which when used against a person is likely to or actually does result in serious bodily injury or death”. O.C.G.A. §16-5-44.1(a)(3). Also included under the definition of a weapon are replicas or other devices that have the appearance of a weapon as defined by the statute.
In the case of Harrelson v. State, the Court found two suspects guilty of hijacking. 312 Ga. App. 710, (2011). According to the victim, he drove to a store and parked his vehicle. As he walked into the store, he noticed two men staring at him. Once he was done in the store, he started walked to his car and got he turned around and noticed the two men following him. When he got to his vehicle, one of the men asked if he could give them a ride and the victim said no. The men started to walk away but then one of them came back and held a knife to his stomach and ordered the victim to hand over his wallet and keys. The two men got into the victim's car and drove away. During the trial, one of the men tried to argue that he was not guilty of hijacking because he was not the one who held the knife to the victim's stomach and took the keys and wallet. However, the Court found that the second man was more than merely present at the scene of the crime as he watched his partner take the wallet and keys. Therefore, both suspects were found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of hijacking a motor vehicle.
Another way a defendant can be guilty of hijacking can be seen in the case of Campbell v. State, 314 Ga. App. 299, (2012). In this instant, the suspect tried to argue that he was not guilty of hijacking because there was no evidence he completed the offense. However, the Court found that the crime of hijacking could be committed by an attempt. Here, the suspect pulled a victim out of their car and tried to assert his ownership of the car. When the victim resisted the suspect's attempts to take the vehicle, the suspect showed a gun to him. The victim then grabbed the gun and a fight ensued whereby the victim was severely injured. The Court found there was sufficient evidence to convict the suspect of hijacking because he attempted to take victim's car using a weapon. It did not matter that he was unsuccessful in taking the car because hijacking can be committed by an attempt.
What Has to be Proven for a Conviction
To be convicted of hijacking in Georgia, the State must demonstrate that a suspect committed the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. This involves showing that a weapon or firearm was used to intimidate or force someone to give up possession of a vehicle. Also, it could include providing the suspect conspired to commit the crime of hijacking. Your Georgia Hijacking Attorney will help spot holes in the State's argument to try to create doubt and attempt to negate elements of the offense.
Penalty for Hijacking in Georgia
Hijacking is a felony in Georgia. The penalty for hijacking a motor vehicle is a prison term for no less than 10 and no more than 20 years and a fine between $10,000.00 and $100,000.00. However, if the accused already has a prior conviction for hijacking, then the consequences are much more severe. In that situation, the penalty would be life in prison and a fine between $100,000.00 and $500,000.00. Furthermore, the previous hijacking conviction does not have to be from a Georgia court; it can be from any other state or country as long as the offense would be considered hijacking in Georgia.
Defenses to a Hijacking Charge in Georgia
I had permission to possess the property: Having permission can be a defense to hijacking; however, further evidence would need to be admitted to demonstrate why a firearm or weapon was used.
I didn't have a weapon: The State has to prove that the accused satisfied the elements of hijacking. A defendant can argue that the State failed to show that a weapon or firearm was used during the crime and if successful, they would not be guilty of hijacking. (They may still be guilty of another crime though). In the case of Haugland v. State, the accused was found not guilty of hijacking because he used his hands and feet instead of a weapon to hijack a motor vehicle. 253 Ga. App., (2002).
The weapon was not used during the crime: In the case of Jackson v. State, the accused did not use a weapon to induce the owner of the vehicle to relinquish possession of the car but did use a gun after he had received possession of the car. 309 Ga. App. 24, (2011). Even though the accused had a weapon, since it was not directly used during the commission of taking the motor vehicle, the accused could not be found guilty of hijacking.
Innocence: If you have an alibi or witness testimony that can support a claim of your innocence, your Georgia Hijacking Attorney could use that to help obtain your acquittal.
Lack of Intent: If you lacked the intent to commit the crime of hijacking, then your Georgia Hijacking Attorney could try to use evidence to get you a lesser sentence. Proof that you thought the car belonged to you or someone close to you or that the weapon was used in self-defense could help your case. It is important to discuss all details of the incident with your Lawyer, so they formulate all possible defenses for your case.
What Does Not Constitute a Defense
I didn't commit the crime; I just planned it: Even if you had not had the opportunity to commit the crime or were still planning it, you could still be guilty of hijacking as defined by the statute. Evidence of people conspiring to hijack a car will be sufficient to find them guilty.
The person was not in the vehicle: Georgia law does not require that the victim is in the vehicle. As long as there is evidence showing that the car was taken from the presence of the victim will be sufficient to prove the elements of the crime. Stephens v. State, 245 Ga. App. 823, (2000).
I only meant to take it for a little while: It doesn't matter whether you intended to take the vehicle permanently or just for a little while; there was still intent to commit hijacking.
I returned the property: Returning stolen property usually does not provide a defense to a charge of hijacking. Taking someone else's car with the use of a weapon or firearm is a crime but, returning the property could help you look more sympathetic to a jury, and your Attorney could use that action to obtain a lesser penalty for your case.
Voluntary Intoxication: If you voluntarily got intoxicated and then conspired to commit a hijacking or committed the crime, that is not a defense. Even though the intent to commit the offense formed after you were intoxicated, Georgia does not accept that argument.
Contact the Office of Lawson and Berry today to schedule a free consultation with one of our Georgia Hijacking Lawyers. Formulating a defense on your own can be overwhelming and seemingly impossible. Our Attorneys are highly knowledgeable and will assist you in formulating the best possible defense for your case. We will walk you through every step of the process, and we are dedicated to being accessible to you- days, nights, weekends, and holidays while working hard on your behalf. Your Attorney will make sure you understand all of your options and advise you on the best approach to take for your case based on their many years of experience. Don't wait to contact one of our Lawyers. Your future is at stake so don't sit around waiting for your case to resolve itself.