People v. Lopez

The Facts

Defendant approached car owner and offered to sell him a watch, later pulling out a gun and telling owner to get out of the car.  Owner got out of the car and left the keys in the ignition.  Defendant then got in the car and placed his backpack in the vehicle.  Owner soon realized the gun was an air gun and attempted to get back in the vehicle to retrieve his checks.  Defendant attempted to shoot owner with the air gun, but then fled when it misfired twice.  Defendant argued at trial that because he had not started the car, nor moved it, he was not guilty of carjacking.

Procedural History

Court of appeals upholds carjacking conviction.

Relevant Statute

Carjacking – “the felonious taking of a vehicle in the possession or another, from his or her person or immediate presence, or from the person or immediate presence of a passenger of the motor vehicle, against his or her will and with the intent to either permanently or temporarily deprive the person in possession of the motor vehicle of his or her possession, accomplished by means of force or fear.”

The Issue

Does the element of “taking” required of a crime such as carjacking or robbery require “asportation” or “movement” of the car?

The Holding/Reasoning

No.  There is no evidence that the California legislature intended the “taking” requirement to differ from other theft crimes.  The intent of the legislation was to sustain convictions of those who with the temporarily dispossess a vehicle.  The legislature is silent on exempting the asportation requirement of carjacking.  Such silence along with the plain meaning of the statutes displays the legislative intent that asportation be a necessary element of carjacking crimes.

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