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Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Lawyer / Blog / Criminal Defense / What Are the Carjacking Laws in Fort Lauderdale?

What Are the Carjacking Laws in Fort Lauderdale?


Florida has specific laws against carjacking. If you commit this offense in Florida, you will face severe penalties. As you attempt to defend yourself, it helps to gain a complete understanding of carjacking laws in Florida. After analyzing the details of these laws, you may identify opportunities for criminal defense strategies in Fort Lauderdale.

Carjacking is Also a Federal Offense 

Even though many other states lack specific carjacking laws, the crime is always illegal on a federal level. This is due to the Anti-Car Theft Act, which went into effect in 1992. This law creates a potential death penalty if a carjacking offense causes the death of a victim.

Florida’s Carjacking Laws Explained 

Although carjacking is a federal offense, most people accused of this crime will face penalties under Florida’s state-specific laws. Florida defines carjacking as:

“The taking of a motor vehicle” from someone else with “the use of force, violence, assault, or putting in fear.” Florida’s carjacking laws also state that if you carried a firearm or deadly weapon while carrying out this offense, you will face a felony of the first degree. Note that you may face a first degree felony if you use a firearm after taking the vehicle. For example, you might brandish a weapon while driving away in order to dissuade anyone from following you. Under Florida law, this causes the same penalties as drawing a weapon before taking the vehicle.

The victim does not necessarily need to be in the process of driving the vehicle. Technically speaking, you could face carjacking charges for stealing a parked vehicle with no one in it. The key element of this crime is the use of force, violence, or threats. For example, the owner might come rushing out when they see their car being stolen. If you threaten them while escaping with the vehicle, this meets the legal definition of carjacking in Florida.

Intent to “permanently or temporarily deprive” the owner of their vehicle is another important element of this crime. If you lacked the intent to actually take the car, you may escape conviction. For example, you might forcibly move a vehicle to a different parking spot because it was blocking your driveway. If your only intent was to move the vehicle (and not steal it), you cannot face carjacking penalties.

Speaking of penalties, felony carjacking in Florida is punishable by up to 30 years in prison. This “Level 7 offense” will cause a mandatory minimum sentence of 21 months in prison. Penalties increase with aggravating factors, such as the use of a weapon. If someone was injured or killed, you will face more serious penalties.

Defend Yourself Against Carjacking Charges in Fort Lauderdale 

Carjacking penalties can be serious, but you can defend yourself with an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Fort Lauderdale . Perhaps this was a case of mistaken identity. Maybe the evidence against you is unreliable. Whatever the case may be, Haber Blank can help you fight for your rights. To get started with a defense strategy, book your consultation today.


  1. http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0800-0899/0812/Sections/0812.133.html
  2. https://www.congress.gov/bill/102nd-congress/house-bill/4542#:~:text=Anti%20Car%20Theft%20Act%20of,or%20received%20in%20interstate%20or
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