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How Is Robbery Defined?
The definition of robbery may vary by area, but in general robbery consists of:
- Taking another person’s personal property
- From their body or presence,
- Through the use of force, or threat of serious injury/death,
- With the intent to permanently deprive them of the property
Thus, a main aspect of robbery is the use or threat of force by the defendant. Simply “pocketing” another person’s belongings might be a crime (like shoplifting), but it wouldn’t be robbery without the element of force.
Are There Any Defenses to Robbery Charges?
Due to the element of force or threat, robbery defenses may be more difficult to establish than other types of theft defenses. Some of the more common defenses to robbery charges include:
- Affirmative Defense: An affirmative defense is where one of the elements of robbery cannot be proved. For example, if the defendant did not intend to “permanently deprive” the person of their property (i.e., they planned to return it later), it can serve as an affirmative defense.
- Lack of Evidence: As in any criminal case, the prosecution must prove the defendant’s guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt”. If the prosecution cannot supply reliable evidence, the defendant cannot be found guilty. Common examples of this are where the defendant’s whereabouts at the time of the crime can’t be determined.
- “True Owner” defense: It may be a defense if the defendant believed that they were the true owner of the personal property that they took. Again, issue of the use of force must be dealt with - this defense will work best if the other party initiated an act of violence against the defendant.
- Intoxication: If the defendant was intoxicated to the point where they could not form the required intent, it will serve as a defense. This is true even if the defendant was voluntarily drunk or intoxicated.
- Duress: Duress is where the defendant was forced to commit the crime under threats of serious physical injury or death. This is a difficult defense to prove, since the defendant will usually have a sufficient amount of time to avoid committing the robbery
Bear in mind that defenses to robbery can depend on many different circumstances, such as local rules and the facts of each case.
Do I Need a Criminal Lawyer for Help with Robbery Defenses?
There may be a number of defenses available to a person who is facing robbery charges. You should contact a criminal lawyer immediately if you need help with crafting a robbery defense. It is very important that you understand all your rights and options in a criminal case. An experienced criminal defense attorney in your area can represent you in a court of law.
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Last Modified: 12-23-2014 10:19 AM PST
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