Don’t Let the Full Chicago Driveways Tempt You to Steal
Unemployment has hit Illinois hard. As the state works through its plan to tackle COVID-19, many people have been left without jobs.
Many of those who have managed to maintain their jobs throughout the COVID-19 pandemic have been working from home. This is good because it keeps people from coming into contact with one another, but it also leaves the door open for a number of other crimes.
With some people out of work and many working from home, more cars in driveways are being stolen. While some may be tempted to take their chances at stealing a car from one of the many full driveways across the state, it’s not a wise choice.
Why? Because facing charges of vehicular hijacking is likely to lead to far graver consequences in Illinois than finding another way to make it through this crisis. Here’s what you need to know.
Vehicular Hijacking in Illinois: What Is It?
In the state of Illinois, vehicular hijacking is a felony. It can also be called carjacking and it occurs when a person takes a motor vehicle from someone or in the immediate presence of someone by the threat of the use of force or the actual use of force.
Aggravated Vehicular Hijacking
Aggravated vehicular hijacking is a separate vehicular hijacking charge. The difference between vehicular hijacking and aggravated vehicular hijacking is the use of a deadly weapon, such as a gun, during the commission of the crime.
Punishments for an Illinois Vehicular Hijacking Conviction
Under the law in Illinois, vehicular hijacking is a Class 1 felony. It is punishable by up to 15 years in prison but under certain circumstances, a sentence can reach up to 30 years in prison. In the case of vehicular hijacking, it is not possible to get probation instead of a prison sentence.
Punishments for Aggravated Vehicular Hijacking
Aggravated vehicular hijacking is a much more serious crime in Illinois. It is charged as a Class X felony. That means that it will carry a minimum mandatory sentence for someone who is convicted in court for up to 30 years in prison.
In some cases, the punishment can be extended to up to 60 years behind bars. Just as with vehicular hijacking, it is not possible to serve probation instead of prison time if convicted for this felony.
Defenses Against a Vehicular Hijacking Charge in Illinois
There are several vital elements to the offense of vehicular hijacking that must be established in order for conviction. First and foremost, it must be proven that the vehicle was taken in the immediate presence of someone.
No Immediate Presence
Immediate presence legally means that the owner of the vehicle must have been close enough to it for it to be under their control and not be taken without force or the threat of it. If it can be shown there was no immediate presence, then that takes away a key to a conviction for the prosecution.
Insufficient Threat of Force
Another aspect that must be proven in court is the use of the threat of force. The court looks at the level of threat used in the commission of the crime to decide whether the requirements of the legal statute are met.
Lack of Intent
Finally, it must be proven that the defendant intended to commit the crime. If it can be shown that they acted without knowledge, then the prosecution will have a more difficult time establishing guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in the court of law.
About the Author:
Andrew M. Weisberg is a former felony prosecutor who now serves as a defense attorney in the greater Chicago area. He has extensive experience in handling all types of criminal cases, from sex offenses and domestic violence to retail theft-related crimes, murder, and drug crimes. His work has been recognized by Avvo, Expertise, National Trial Lawyers, and others, and he has been featured on countless news outlets for his experience and knowledge in criminal law.