Capitol - Your Illinois News Radar » Legislators begin to focus on carjackings
SUBSCRIBE to Capitol Fax      Advertise Here      Mobile Version     Exclusive Subscriber Content     Updated Posts    Contact
To subscribe to Capitol Fax, click here.
Legislators begin to focus on carjackings

Tuesday, Feb 13, 2018

* 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).


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.


- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Chris Widger - Tuesday, Feb 13, 18 @ 1:27 pm:

    Changing the law won’t affect very much as long as the prosecutors and judges have an attitude that these crimes aren’t worth chasing down. We have elections for them, and again, people get the government they deserve. I suppose I oppose changing the law; it’s reasonable to have a knowledge requirement in the law, and we shouldn’t need legislative malarkey to get prosecutors to act the way we want them to.

  2. - Perrid - Tuesday, Feb 13, 18 @ 1:27 pm:

    Tightening the requirements is probably a good idea. Yeah it’s possible that your friend lent you a car that he had stolen and you did not know was stolen, in which case you are SOL, but that’s just not that likely.

  3. - Chris Widger - Tuesday, Feb 13, 18 @ 1:29 pm:

    “Exclusive unexplained possession” also sounds like it may not survive a vagueness challenge. We have a notion of crime in this country as something that must be proven by the government, not explained away by the defendant.

  4. - Blue dog dem - Tuesday, Feb 13, 18 @ 1:29 pm:

    Twenty five years. No parole.

  5. - Lucky Charms - Tuesday, Feb 13, 18 @ 1:35 pm:

    =Twenty five years. No parole.=
    Unbelievably inhumane

  6. - stlboy - Tuesday, Feb 13, 18 @ 1:38 pm:

    “Unbelievably inhumane”
    Even if a gun was used?

  7. - JoanP - Tuesday, Feb 13, 18 @ 1:40 pm:

    Nope. Criminal laws should always have a mental state, intent, knowledge, etc. It’s ridiculous.

  8. - Retired - Tuesday, Feb 13, 18 @ 1:49 pm:

    All accused of carjacking should be tried as adults with no exceptions. If a gun is used, minimum sentence should be 25 years and no parole.

  9. - supplied_demand - Tuesday, Feb 13, 18 @ 2:03 pm:

    ==We have a notion of crime in this country as something that must be proven by the government, not explained away by the defendant. ==

    That old “innocent until proven guilty” chestnut, such a pain. Clearly, there is an existing loophole, closing it will produce positive results. Unabashed cynicism certainly won’t help solve the problem.

  10. - Swift - Tuesday, Feb 13, 18 @ 2:07 pm:

    ==”You would think criminals had an advocate or a lobbyist writing the law for them”== great quote there, almost Rauneresque.

    On the plus side, CPS seems to be getting across probability to juvenile criminals, 73 arrests for almost 1,000 carjackings, 93% chance of not getting arrested, not bad odds.

  11. - Amalia - Tuesday, Feb 13, 18 @ 2:11 pm:

    as long as you let the juveniles go home (Toni take note), you will have this problem. changing the law is a small part of the answer. there must be consequences. this is a Cook County problem.

  12. - Northern pike - Tuesday, Feb 13, 18 @ 2:12 pm:

    If these are carjackings then they should be prosecuted under robbery. Not possession of a stolen car.

  13. - FTR - Tuesday, Feb 13, 18 @ 2:17 pm:

    == 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. ==

    But Rahm’s proposed bill will do next nothing to address that example. That kid wasn’t immediately released because it’s hard to prove auto theft cases at trial. He got out because juvenile carjackers no longer go to “adult” court. They stay in the juvenile system, where judges have essentially stopped detaining offenders in the Juvy Home while their cases are pending — even for gun crimes.

    We should either go back to trying juvenile carjackers as adults like we used to, or require they’re held at least temporarily in Juvy upon arrest.

  14. - IRLJ - Tuesday, Feb 13, 18 @ 2:17 pm:

    Don’t confuse carjacking, which is a violent crime and should be dealt with as such, with car theft, which is larcenous, serious but not violent.
    What is true for both, is that without requiring criminal intent, innocent people can go to jail.

  15. - AndyIllini - Tuesday, Feb 13, 18 @ 2:23 pm:

    Northern Pike, I think the point is that under current law, possessing a stolen car isn’t considered proof that you stole it.

    Like I steal your car, cops identify it, pull me over. I’m driving it. They ask me why I’m driving a stolen car, I shrug my shoulders. They don’t have a video of me stealing it, no one saw me do it. My fingerprints are all over it, but again, I’m driving it so of course they would be. So how do you know I stole it? So instead they charge me with trespassing since I wasn’t supposed to be in your car. So it’s not that I can’t be charged with stealing it, it’s that there’s no proof I stole it, other than that I was driving it when they found it, which under current law isn’t enough. I think that’s the issue here.

  16. - Steve - Tuesday, Feb 13, 18 @ 2:38 pm:

    Anyone charged with car jacking shouldn’t be allowed bail . Period…

  17. - Rutro - Tuesday, Feb 13, 18 @ 2:44 pm:

    When you raise the age of juveniles and get rid of mandatory auto transfers, kids quickly learn they can do a bunch of very bad things w/out serious consequence. Lots of blame to go around.

  18. - Chicagonk - Tuesday, Feb 13, 18 @ 2:45 pm:

    Rather than change the law, Rahm would be better off hiring more detectives, relaxing the chase policy for recently stolen vehicles (also lobby the state to strengthen municipality sovereign immunity laws - the never ending lawsuits are ridiculous), and put pressure on CPD and the state’s attorney to put together solid vehicular hijacking cases (don’t be afraid to go to trial).

  19. - Payback - Tuesday, Feb 13, 18 @ 4:32 pm:

    “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.”

    That’s what we want in America, “police brass” writing and promoting laws that take away the expectation of every citizen to be considered innocent until proven guilty. While we’re at it, let’s do a poll and see if police believe that those accused of crimes deserve a jury trial if they choose. Or maybe we could just let cops be judges too and pronounce sentence on the spot, like Judge Dredd. Badges make humans infallible, don’t the serfs know it’s for their own good?

    “The result often is a reduced misdemeanor charge of trespassing.”

    So you’ve got a suspect identified, arrested, fingerprinted, photographed, and has a court date. The State’s Attorney has eighteen months to file or amend the charge on most misdemeanors, and it’s just too hard for them and the police to actually do their jobs and prove the car was stolen? Boo hoo. Right, let’s shift the burden of proving innocence to the accused and time trip back 800 years to before the Magna Carta was signed. The U.S. Constitution is so outmoded anyway.

    Any lawyer who promotes this garbage should be disbarred.

  20. - Last Bull Moose - Tuesday, Feb 13, 18 @ 5:13 pm:

    Making possession of a stolen car a felony would be a first step. The defendant can provide an affirmative defense by showing he got the car from someone who he reasonably believed had the car legally.

    The police can trace possession back to the carjacker. Now they have no leverage. With the new law, they would have leverage.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

* Question of the day
* It's (still) just a bill
* Just own it, dude
* FBI raids Ald. Austin's ward office
* Fun with numbers
* The hollowing out of state government
* Lightfoot pushes back against critics
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Campaign updates
* Two Bradys, two rhetorical approaches
* Justice Burke under fire again for appointments
* Crosstown open thread
* Yesterday's stories

Visit our advertisers...





Main Menu
Pundit rankings
Subscriber Content
Blagojevich Trial
Updated Posts

June 2019
May 2019
April 2019
March 2019
February 2019
January 2019
December 2018
November 2018
October 2018
September 2018
August 2018
July 2018
June 2018
May 2018
April 2018
March 2018
February 2018
January 2018
December 2017
November 2017
October 2017
September 2017
August 2017
July 2017
June 2017
May 2017
April 2017
March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004

Blog*Spot Archives
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005


RSS Feed 2.0
Comments RSS 2.0

Hosted by MCS SUBSCRIBE to Capitol Fax Advertise Here Mobile Version Contact Rich Miller