Carjacking in California is always considered a felony according to the Penal Code 215 PC and is punished by:

  • Probation and up to one year of a county jail; or
  • Three, five or nine years in California state jail or a fine of maximum $10,000.

However, along with these, there are certain types of sentencing enhancements that increase or enhance the offender’s sentence as per the case circumstances. These include but are not limited to:

  1. Substantial physical injury– if during the carjacking, the offender caused the victim to suffer with substantial bodily injury, s/he will be imposed a three-to-six year prison sentence in addition to the punishment given for carjacking conviction as per the California Penal Code 12022.7 PC California’s great bodily injury;
  2. Criminal street gang enhancement– Penal Code 186.22 PC, which is California’s criminal street gang enhancement law, increases the sentencing of carjacker if the prosecution proves that the offender carjacked for the benefit of, at the direction of or in association with any criminal street gang. The carjacker will be imposed a fifteen-year-to-life sentencing in addition to his/her penalties for conviction.
  3. California’s “10-20-Life use a gun and you’re done “ law– this law of Penal Code 12022.53 PC subjects the carjacker to ten-year-to-life imprisonment in addition to the penalties given by carjacking conviction. If the carjacker used a gun, s/he will be sentenced to 10 years of additional imprisonment. In case s/he fired a gun, 20-year of imprisonment, and 25-year-to-life sentencing if the carjacker fired a gun and caused serious bodily injury to the victim.
  4. California’s three strikes law– carjacking is considered as a violent felony under California’s three strikes law, which will result in a strike on the offender’s record. Besides, s/he must serve at least 85% of the sentence before being eligible for parole. In case the carjacker is charged with any felony before and has a prior strike on the record, s/he will be treated as a “second striker” and will be sentenced to twice the term. If the carjacker is charged with a third felony and has two prior “strikes” on the record, s/he will be considered as a “third striker” and will be charged with a mandatory minimum sentence of 25-year-to-life in California state prison.
  5. California’s felony-murder rule– if during the carjacking the offender unintentionally killed someone, s/he will be also convicted of first-degree murder according to the California’s felony-murder rule.
  6. Immigration / removal– as carjacking is a “aggravated felony”, it can lead to the deportation or removal if the offender is a legal immigrant or alien.