Carjacking in California is defined as the felonious taking of a motor vehicle in the possession of another from his or her immediate presence or from the immediate presence of a passenger against his or her will with the intent to permanently or temporarily deprive the person in possession of their possession accomplished by force or fear. Penal Code Section 215. The punishment for carjacking is three to nine years in state prison.

Prison sentences for carjacking are automatically increased when weapons are used in the commission of the crime. A kidnapping during a carjacking or attempted carjacking is punishable by life in prison. Carjacking is also a "Strike" in California under the Three Strikes Law, which means that, if convicted, a defendant must serve at least 85% of their sentence before they are released.

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