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Charges for a violent crime can be intimidating. It is important you understand your rights and know what you are facing. The charges are serious, and the penalties can affect your future. Never talk to any law enforcement officer until you have retained an experienced criminal defense attorney to protect your rights.
The attorneys at Pumphrey Law represent clients throughout Tallahassee for a variety of robbery-related offenses such as Larceny (also known as theft), Aggravated Assault, and Kidnapping. They are experienced in fighting for the rights of those accused of violent crimes and property crimes. They can help you receive the best possible results in your case.
In a robbery case, the prosecutor with the State Attorney’s Office must prove the following elements of the crime beyond all reasonable doubt:
The defendant took money or other property which may be the subject of larceny;
The taking was from a person or custody of another;
The taking was with the intent to permanently or temporarily deprive the person or the owner of the money or other property; and,
During the course of the taking there was the use of force, violence, assault, or putting the victim in a state of fear.
The term “in the course of committing the robbery” also includes an act committed during an attempted robbery or while in flight after the attempt or commission of a robbery. An act could be considered in the course of the robbery if it happened before or after the property was stolen or was attempted to be stolen
The punishments for robbery depend on whether the person accused carried or used a weapon during the commission of the robbery and whether the weapon qualified as either a firearm or other deadly weapon.
In most cases, robbery is charged as a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years of incarceration. However, if the accused carried a weapon in the course of the robbery, the charge would be an Aggravated Robbery, which is a first-degree felony.
If in the course of committing the robbery the offender carried a firearm or other deadly weapon, then the robbery is a felony of the first degree, which is punishable by life in prison.
Robbery by Sudden Snatching
Florida Statutes Section 812.131 created the criminal offense of Robbery by Sudden Snatching. This crime is one of the most common forms of robbery committed by juveniles in the state of Florida. The crime is often called “purse snatching.”
It must be proven that the defendant took money or other property from the victim with the intent to permanently or temporarily deprive the victim or the owner of the money or other property. It also must be proven that the victim knew it was being stolen while it was happening.
Under the statutory scheme for sudden snatching robbery, it is not necessary for the prosecutor with the State Attorney’s office to show:
The defendant used any amount of force beyond that effort necessary to obtain possession of the money or other property,
The victim offered any resistance to the taking, or
The victim was injured.
Sudden snatching robbery typically is charged as a felony of the third-degree, which is punishable by up to five years in prison. If, in the course of committing Robbery by Sudden Snatching, the defendant used or carried a firearm or other deadly weapon, the Robbery by Sudden Snatching is a felony of the second-degree, which is punishable by up to 15 years in prison
Home-Invasion Robbery is different from a burglary. Under Florida Statutes §812.135, Home-Invasion Robbery is defined as any robbery that occurs when the offender enters a dwelling with the intent to commit a robbery and commits a robbery of the occupants therein.
If in the course of committing the Home-Invasion Robbery, the person carries no firearm, deadly weapon, or other weapons, the person commits a felony of the first-degree. A first-degree felony is punishable by up to 30 years in prison.
If in the course of committing the Home-Invasion Robbery the person carries a firearm or other deadly weapon, the person commits a felony of the first degree, punishable by a term not to exceed life in prison.
Florida Statutes Section 812.133 defines carjacking as the taking of a motor vehicle that may be the subject of larceny from the person or custody of another. However, this is considered different from Grand Theft because of the violence involved.
To be considered Carjacking, the taking must have occurred with the intent to either permanently or temporarily deprive the person or the owner of the motor vehicle. Additionally, the alleged offender had to use force, violence, commit an assault, or put fear in the victim while taking the car.
Carjacking is a felony of the first degree, which is punishable by up to 30 years in prison. If in the course of committing the carjacking the defendant carried a firearm or other deadly weapon, the carjacking is classified as a felony in the first degree, punishable by life in prison.
So, what is Larceny? Another word for Larceny is Theft, as different states use different terms in their criminal statutes. In Florida, the term used is theft, and theft is codified under Florida Statute Section 812.14. Florida does not have a separate criminal statute for Larceny. To prove theft, the prosecutors must prove the following beyond a reasonable doubt:
Defendant knowingly and unlawfully obtained or used the property of another; and
Defendant did so with the intent to, either temporarily or permanently:
deprive the victim of their rights to the property or any benefit from it.
appropriate the property of the victim to the defendant’s own use or to the use of any person not entitled to it.
Theft is simply the taking of the property of another without that person’s consent. Robbery adds the additional element of force. Theft is broken down by the monetary amount stolen. To learn more about theft charges, read our blog here.
Robbery, Burglary, and Theft Statistics
Learn more about recent statistics on robbery cases in Florida and the Tallahassee area from the National Center for Victims of Crimes, the leading resource and advocacy organization helping the victims of crime. The article shows that since 2006, the number of robbery cases has decreased dramatically for all types of property crimes including larceny, theft, and burglaries. The article includes crime statistics displayed on graphs and charts.
Bureau of Justice Statistics on Robbery
Read articles from the Bureau of Justice Statistics in Washington, D.C., which compiled statistics in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Justice and state and local law enforcement agencies. The statistics estimate that property crimes, both reported and not reported to police, total more than $16 billion a year. The studies classify robbery offenses by whether the taking was completed, whether an injury occurred and whether a weapon was used during the crime.
Once an individual has been charged with a robbery offense, the responsibility falls on the prosecution to prove the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Prosecutors will have to prove each of the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
The Defendant took property from another person;
The Defendant used force, violence, assault, or fear in the course of the taking;
The property taken had value;
The Defendant took the property with the intent to permanently or temporarily deprive the victim of their right to the property or benefit from it, or
The Defendant appropriated the property of the victim.
The burden of proof can be high in a robbery case; however, it is likely that the State will use evidence such as forensics, witness statements, and other circumstantial evidence to prove their case.
Since robbery is considered a violent crime, the State will likely prosecute to the harshest of penalties. This may seem intimidating to a defendant charged with a robbery offense. It is important to remember, however, that there are still possible defenses that can be used against a robbery allegation. By working with a defense attorney, you can use any of the following defenses in a robbery case:
False Accusation – It is not uncommon for a person to be falsely accused of a crime. Whether it’s due to mistaken identity, revenge, or other purposes, it is entirely possible that the defendant was falsely accused of the robbery offense. Working with a defense attorney can help build evidence to prove the defendant was falsely accused.
Insufficient Evidence – As previously mentioned, the State has the burden of proving beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of the robbery offense. If there is not enough evidence through forensics, witness statements, or other common pieces of evidence, then the defense of insufficient evidence can be used by the defense team.
Mistaken Identity – If the victim of the robbery or another person gives a description that matches the defendant but is later proved that it was the wrong person, mistaken identity can be used as a defense to a robbery charge.
Afterthought Defense – If two people got into a fight and one person got knocked unconscious, it is not considered robbery for the other person to take something off the unconscious person, as it was an “afterthought” of the violent offense. While this can be a valid defense for a robbery charge, it is important to note that the defendant could instead be charged with robbery by sudden snatching.
Claim of Right Defense – In Florida, if the defendant has forcibly taken something under the claim of right, it is not considered a robbery. This is only if there is proof that the person had good faith to believe he or she is the owner of such property or was entitled to item/property’s possession.
Mere Presence – A defendant can use “mere presence” for acknowledging that they were at the scene of the crime but did not commit any offense or display a questionable behavior to participate in the robbery offense. For example, if you were out with friends and they decided to commit a robbery, but you did not partake at all. In this instance, you cannot be convicted as an accomplice unless there is evidential proof that you have acted in a way to further the robbery offense.
The criminal defense attorneys at the Pumphrey Law are experienced in helping clients fight a variety of robbery charges, including Robbery, Armed Robbery, Carjacking, Robbery by Sudden Snatching, and Home-Invasion Robbery. Call Pumphrey Law at (850) 681-7777 to find out how we fight these serious criminal charges throughout Leon County and the surrounding areas in North Florida.
Attorney Don Pumphrey, Jr. is a former prosecutor, former law enforcement officer, and a successful and experienced criminal defense attorney. Don has achieved over 100 not guilty verdicts at trial and over 2,000 dismissals.