Your Spouse Just Stole Your Car: Was It Carjacking?

Posted on: 5 August 2018

Marriages are very often a loving situation between two people who care for each other deeply. Unfortunately, they can also be a bad situation because one party turns sour, bitter, and jealous. In some instances, a spouse may do something criminal against their loved one, such as stealing their car in a fit of rage. Is this type of crime carjacking or is it a less serious situation?

Carjacking Is A Specific Type Of Crime

Carjacking is defined by the U.S. Justice Department as a robbery of a vehicle by violent means. It differs from simply stealing a car because the person has to be in the car at the time and coerced out of it by violent means, i.e., somebody wielding a gun and threatening the person with violence. Nearly all instances of this crime are done by a stranger, but that doesn't have to be the case.

There are many instances of a spouse trying to violently steal their husband or wife's vehicle, often with the use of weapons. Even if no violence is committed against the spouse whose car is being stolen, the threat of violence is considered the same as real violence. The circumstances of the case, such as why the spouse is stealing the car (i.e. they are having a fight with the spouse and want to punish them) will vary heavily.

The most difficult thing about this kind of case, though, isn't showing that your spouse stole your car but that they used violence. In fact, they are likely to try to claim that they did not as a way of avoiding the potential life sentence that can be given in some states to people who carjack.

Defenses That May Be Used

So while your spouse aggressively taking your car can be considered carjacking, they are likely to use a variety of different defenses. The most likely defense is an interesting one that focuses on the use of intimidation or violence. Your spouse may try to claim that no threat or violence was used against you when stealing the car, which may decrease the charge to a less severe one.

This type of defense is so common because judges and juries often have a hard time believing that a spouse could really steal their own car from a partner. It is, essentially, an admittance of guilt but one that tries to make it appear less dangerous. Your spouse's attorney may even try to make light of the situation to make you appear easily frightened or jittery.

So even if your spouse did use angry threats or even had a weapon, they may try to argue (due to a lack of evidence) that no such threats were used. This frustrating situation is one that may be hard for the judge or jury to argue against if you don't hire a high-quality criminal lawyer to gather evidence and prevent a case that showcases real violence from your spouse when stealing your vehicle. Contact a firm, like Johnson Motinger Greenwood Law Firm, for more help.