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Robbery Defenses

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What is a Robbery?

Robbery is defined as the felonious taking of a person’s personal property through physical force or fear against a victim with the intent to permanently deprive them of the property. It is typically considered a second-degree felony in most states.

What are the Elements of a Robbery?

The elements of a robbery are defined in different ways by each state, but the general elements are the same. Robbery usually consists of:

  • The taking, with intent to steal;
  • The personal property of another;
  • From his or her person or in their presence;
  • Against his or her will; and/or
  • By violence or threat of force.

In layman’s terms, robbery is theft by using violence or threat of violence.

What are Some Robbery Defenses?

Defendants can use a number of defenses at trial, but whether they are successful depends on the facts and circumstances of their case. Below are a number of common defenses.

  • Innocence: Offering evidence that undermines the prosecution’s case against the defendant can help demonstrate bolster the defendant’s defense. For example, if the robbery occurred at 3:20 PM, but there is a witness who supports the defendant’s alibi that he was buying groceries at the store at that time, the prosecution’s case is undermined. 
  • Intoxication: Intoxication is considered an affirmative defense. An affirmative defense is a defense where one of the elements of robbery can’t be proven. If a defendant is intoxicated involuntarily (against his or her will or without his or her knowledge), intoxication is a valid defense. If the person was voluntarily intoxicated, they can argue they’re entitled to a lesser charge because they did not have the necessary intent to commit robbery.
  • Duress: A defendant who is forced by threat of death or bodily injury to commit the robbery can claim duress as a complete defense. Proving duress is difficult because a defendant who has opportunity to avoid committing the robbery without risking death or bodily injury cannot succeed with this 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. 

Should I Hire a Criminal Defense Attorney?

There may be a number of defenses available to a person who is facing robbery charges. You should contact a local 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. A knowledgeable criminal defense attorney in your area can represent you in a court of law.

Photo of page author Erin Chan Adams

, LegalMatch Legal Writer

Last Modified: 02-07-2018 12:27 PM PST

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