Carjacking Attorney in Hudson County


Carjacking is considered an egregious crime in New Jersey, outlawed by section N.J.S.A. 2C:15-2 of the Criminal Code. If you happen to be an individual charged with this serious criminal offense, you could be facing the harsh reality of a state prison sentence if convicted. You may be surprised to learn that being found guilty of carjacking in New Jersey can get you sentenced to prison for 10 to 30 years, as there is a larger sentencing range for this crime than even other first degree crimes under the law. Our attorneys however, are not surprised by this potential sentence, as we have experience handling criminal matters involving carjacking charges and other crimes such as robbery, aggravated assault, and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose. We know what proofs are needed to sustain a conviction, defenses that may be available, and mitigation tools that can be employed to minimize the penal consequences for these charges. If you have been arrested and charged with carjacking in Hudson County, whether it be in Jersey City, Hoboken, Weehawken, Kearny, West New York, Secaucus, or elsewhere in New Jersey, there is no time like the present to begin strategizing about your top defense. Contact our local office in Jersey City at (201) 793-8018 to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney at William Proetta Criminal Law about your pending charges. We provide cost-free consultations whenever you need.


Carjacking can be readily defined as a theft of a motor vehicle with the use of force, threats, injury or coercion. More specifically, you can be found guilty of carjacking if it is determined that it was your intention to unlawfully take control over someone’s vehicle by:

  • Committing bodily injury,
  • Threatening imminent injury to the occupant of the car,
  • Committing or threatening the commission of a first or second degree crime, or
  • Operating the motor vehicle with an original occupant still inside.

Note that the threats or violence asserted must be demonstrated to have occurred during the commission of the crime.


Theft of a motor vehicle without any of the above elements is not carjacking. For example, if you drive into the parking lot of Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, or Wawa and someone hops in your car and takes off while you are in the store, it is simply a theft crime, not a carjacking offense. However, if there is an occupant in the car such as an infant, child, or passenger, and the defendant drives off with him or her in the car, you would be charged with carjacking. Although there was no threat of violence committed against the infant strapped in the car seat, you can still be charged with violating NJ 2C:15-2, as all that is required is proof that you took the car without permission and that the infant (occupant) was inside. Taking off with an infant in the car is not the only way to be charged with carjacking. There are numerous other examples.

As noted, carjacking occurs when threats or force are used in taking a motor vehicle. As you may recall, a few years back, 4 men were charged with carjacking and murder of a man at the Short Hills Mall. It was alleged that the vehicle owner and his wife returned to their Range Rover after having shopped at the mall and were met by the four carjackers. The assailants struggled with the man who owned the vehicle and he was shot and killed during the commission of the carjacking. While this is an obvious example, if you pick apart the acts, it is clear to see how carjacking can be proven. For instance, the vehicle belonged to another, the men took the vehicle (theft), and they did so by committing a first degree crime (murder). Of course, not all examples are as extreme and the particular sentence will depend on the seriousness of the conduct proven, among other relevant factors.


Carjacking is a serious violent offense which is why it is prosecuted as the most extreme degree of indictable crime in New Jersey, namely a first degree. For such felony offenses violating N.J.S.A. 2C:15-2, the legislature has authorized maximum penalties including 10 to 30 years in state prison. Even if you have the good fortune of being sentenced to 10 years as opposed to 30, you will still be required to serve 85% of the sentence before you are eligible for parole. This is different from many first degree crimes, as generally, if you are sentenced to a term in prison of 10 flat (no parole ineligibility), you would like be eligible for parole in about three and a half years. But carjacking is subject to the No Early Release Act (NERA), which implements mandatory minimums. To compound the devastating effects of prison, you may also be ordered to pay as much as $200,000 in fines if convicted of a carjacking offense.


Obviously, the stakes are significantly high in carjacking cases. Having a knowledgeable carjacking defense lawyer can make a massive difference in the outcome. At William Proetta Criminal Law, our lawyers have proven results minimizing the overall impacts of permissible sentences. For example, we may be able to demonstrate that the offense was merely a theft, which is a third degree crime with a maximum prison range of 5 years, as opposed to carjacking. Reducing the charges to a crime that is several degrees lower would not absolutely require prison if you have no prior record. Also, we may be able to limit the evidence that can be introduced at trial, thereby weakening the state’s case. In some cases, we can file motions to dismiss the charges altogether or seek an alternative agreement with the state to limit the range of punishments that can ensue upon conviction. No matter what your case entails, we are here for you. When you or a loved one is facing carjacking charges in North Bergen, Bayonne, Guttenberg, Harrison, or another town in Hudson County, do not hesitate to call (201) 793-8018 today for more information and to learn how we can help you. The consultation is free and available 24/7.