A few bad decisions over the course of a crazy night is likely to land two D.C. men behind bars for several years.
According to The Washington Post, the 23-year-old and the 22-year-old pleaded guilty in federal court, where the cases were handled.
In each of the alleged carjackings and robberies, the pair worked together. Investigators said one armed himself with a BB gun that looked like a handgun and the other brandished a metal rod.
The first incident allegedly happened just before 1 a.m. on April 24 last year. The two men, as well as a third, reportedly accosted a cab driver on Bellevue Circle. They held him up and then drove off with his vehicle.
About two hours later, the two men held up a woman who was waiting for a bus on Sixth Street.
Just a few hours later, the two men were leaning up against a fence on Alabama Avenue when a woman walked by. They then put on masks and demanded she hand over her purse. When she tried to run, one of the men reportedly struck her with the metal rod.
Two hours after that, they snatched the purse of a woman on who was waiting for a bus on First Street. Another woman was nearby, saw what was happening and tried to run. the men reportedly stopped her and stole her purse as well.
Each was charged with armed robbery and carjacking. Law enforcement officials are still looking for the third man.
While it's not typical for carjacking and robbery cases to be handled in federal court, it's not unheard of either. Sometimes, these cases are forwarded to federal court because the individuals were involved in a series of crimes and prosecutors and law enforcement officers believe they are going to get more time behind bars than if the case had been tried through a state court.
Actually, up until 1992, federal courts didn't even have a carjacking statute. However, in that year there were a few high-profile cases, some of which resulted in murders. Congress responded by making carjacking a federal crime that can net up to 15 years in prison.
Although there were a slew of these federal carjacking cases right after that law passed, the figures have dwindled significantly. The average annual federal carjacking convictions peter out around 50 or so - and that's for nearly 95 federal districts.
Considering that there are roughly 35,000 cases across the country every year, the vast majority of these you're going to see in state or local courts.
D.C. Criminal Code 22-2803 addresses the crime of carjacking, mandating that a conviction under this statute will carry a prison term of between 7 years and 21 years and a potential fine of up to $5,000.
It's worse if you have a weapon. In that case, armed carjacking (which you can be penalized for even if, as in this case, the weapon you have isn't real) is a Class A felony, punishable by up to 30 years in prison.