A wild carjacking took place in New York this week. Police say that a 41-year old man approached a woman driving an SUV on a street in upper Manhattan and threatened her with a brick. She apparently complied with the man’s demand and exited the vehicle, at which point he allegedly jumped in the car and drove it to East Harlem. At that point the man’s wife flagged down a patrol car and told the police that her husband was having some sort of a psychotic episode. The cops took off after the SUV, and eventually the vehicle smashed into a row of parked cars just behind the 28th Precinct station. Police said they suspect the man of being high synthetic marijuana, also known as “K2” and “Spice.”
The reason we focused on this report was not so much the strange behavior involved, as the list of charges the man now faces: robbery, grand larceny, driving while ability impaired (DWAI/Drug). Note that nowhere in the list does it mention carjacking. What this points out is that the criminal laws in New York, as well as in many jurisdictions, do not necessarily reflect the language that most people use when referring to different offenses.
In this case, to be sure, the act of carjacking has been alleged, and is included in the list of crimes the man is accused of committing. What you may not know is that carjacking is covered in the New York Penal Law under the heading of robbery. Section 160.10 contains the definition of the crime of robbery in the second degree. It includes several different variations, including forcibly stealing a motor vehicle, commonly known as carjacking. It is a class C felony, although the classification may increase depending upon a number of factors, including possession and/or use of various weapons and instruments.
While this may seem to be largely a technical issue, the importance of understanding precisely what offense is being charged is essential if you want to know anything at all about a charge you may be facing. Many factors, some of them seemingly small, could make a huge difference in the elements of the crime, its classification, and the applicable penalties if you are convicted.
George Vomvolakis Law Offices
275 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10016