* Is a legislative crackdown on carjackings coming?…
In Illinois, motor vehicle theft is classified as a Class 2 felony, which carries a sentence of between three and seven years. But under the state’s current law, a person in possession of a stolen vehicle has to know it has “been stolen or converted” to be charged with felony possession of a stolen motor vehicle.
That knowledge, Emanuel’s office and police brass say, can be difficult to prove because those caught with vehicles that have been carjacked often claim they didn’t know it was stolen. The result often is a reduced misdemeanor charge of trespassing.
Unlike the felony charge, which can require the offender to post bail and carries the likelihood of state prison time, a misdemeanor typically results in probation and an immediate release from jail, said Walter Katz, Emanuel’s deputy chief of staff for public safety.
A new bill filed late Friday would remove the requirement that a person in possession of a stolen vehicle has to know it is stolen and instead set the bar at whether the individual possesses the vehicle without the consent of the owner or “exercises exclusive unexplained possession” of a vehicle.
The bill is here.
* More from ABC 7…
“The change will shift the standard to whether the rightful owner of the vehicle provided consent to the individual caught driving reported stolen vehicle,” said State Sen. Tony Munoz (D-Chicago).
According to data from the city, since January 2017 there have been 4,240 vehicle thefts in Chicago. Of those, 3,139, or 74 percent, were misdemeanor trespassing while 879, or only 21 percent, were charged as felony possession of a stolen motor vehicle. The remaining charges fell into other categories.
“I had a resident before she even had a chance to turn off her car and put it in park, she already had a gun to her head,” said State Rep. Jaime Andrade (D-Chicago).
* WGN TV…
To underscore the inadequacy of the current law, Emanuel cited one case earlier this month when a teenager attempted to carjack a retired cop, was arrested, and released, before being arrested again less than 48 hours later — for carjacking.
“You would think that currently the criminals had an advocate or a lobbyist writing the law for them,” Rep. Andrade said.
* But changing the armed juvenile carjacking statute has a different set of legal issues…
Dozens of juveniles were charged last year in Chicago for allegedly pointing guns at motorists and stealing their cars, but most were not detained longer than 24 hours, according to court records obtained by the Sun-Times.
Armed carjackings have become a major political problem for Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Almost every part of the city has been plagued by the brazen holdups. There were almost 1,000 of them last year, compared with 663 in 2016. […]
Chicago Police data show juveniles are contributing to the rise of armed carjackings: 42 juveniles were arrested for that offense last year through Dec. 16, compared with 31 adults. […]
[Sen. Bill Cunningham] said one possibility is for the legislature to change the burden of proof for juveniles charged with aggravated carjacking. The legal presumption in those cases is that the defendants should not be detained unless the prosecutor can show why, Cunningham said. He said he’s examining whether defendants should be detained unless their defense attorneys can show why not.