When people think of a robbery, they likely associate the crime with references from pop culture, such as TV depictions of a “stick-up” on the street. The legal definition of a robbery is the unlawful taking of property from another person by threat or force. One thing to note about robbery is that it’s a more serious charge than theft, due to the additional factors of threat or violence. For example, a person who secretly pick-pockets someone on the street would be charged with theft rather than robbery.
Robbery is considered somewhat of a hybrid offense between theft and assault. It is classified as a violent crime since it involves the use of threat or force. An example of a robbery would include a person stopping someone in an alley with a weapon and demanding the victim give them money or other valued possessions.
The state of Florida imposes serious penalties when it comes to robbery offenses, which can vary depending on the characteristics of the alleged offense. This page will define Florida’s legal definition of robbery, the various types of robbery, and the penalties for a defendant charged with a robbery offense.
South Florida Robbery Defense Attorney
Any type of violent crime charge can be a frightening experience. Not only does the defendant face the possibility of paying expensive fines and imprisonment, but a person convicted of robbery will also face the stigma of being considered a violent offender. For this reason, these types of charges should be taken extremely seriously.
If you or someone you know has been accused of a robbery crime, it is important to seek out the legal help of an experienced defense lawyer. The attorneys at Ian Goldstein Law have years of experience representing clients accused of violent offenses such as robbery. Our team represents clients in various counties in South Florida. Contact our firm today at (561) 600-0950 to receive a free consultation regarding your case.
Florida’s Robbery Statute
Robbery is defined under Florida Statute Section 812.13 as the taking of money or other property which may be the subject of larceny from the person or custody of another. The person charged with robbery is accused of having the intent to temporarily or permanently deprive the owner of such money or property. During the commission of the alleged robbery, the defendant has also been accused of using a threat, assault, violence, or instilling fear into the victim.
Larceny is defined by the Florida Uniform Crime Reports program as the “unlawful taking, carrying, leading, or riding away of property from the possession, or constructive possession of another.” However, larceny differs from both robbery and theft charges as it does not involve the use of force or threat and involves the taking of a moveable personal property.
When it comes to robbery charges in Florida, there are specific elements which must be proven by the State to convict the accused person.
Elements to Prove in a Robbery Case
When a defendant has been accused of a robbery offense, the prosecution must prove the following elements beyond reasonable doubt:
- Taking – There is proof that the defendant took the money or property from the owner, without their consent. The defendant has taken such property from the victim’s person, immediate vicinity, or from a separate location which is considered in the victim’s control;
- Force and/or threat – The defendant has used a threat or force to obtain the money or property from the victim. This can include using a threat, intimidation, or physical force which causes the victim to fear for their well-being. During a robbery case, the threat or force from the defendant can occur before, during, or after the victim’s property has been taken, as long as there is evidential proof of a continuous sequence of events;
- Property Stolen – The property which has been taken from the victim by threat or violence must have been considered worth some value; and/or
- Intent – The defendant acted with the intent to deprive the victim of their property, either temporarily or permanently.
Penalties for Robbery Charges
The penalties for a robbery charge in Florida can vary depending on several factors. The specific punishment for a person convicted of robbery would depend on whether or not the person used a weapon or firearm in the commission of the offense.
Florida Statute Section 812.13 explains that a standard robbery charge without the use of a weapon, deadly weapon, or firearm is considered a second-degree felony. In Florida, the penalty for a second-degree felony includes up to a $10,000 fine and up to 15 years in prison.
The defendant may receive enhanced penalties if any of the following occurred during the commission, or attempted commission of a robbery:
- The defendant carried or used a weapon in the course of the robbery; or
- The defendant carried or used a firearm or other deadly weapon in the course of the robbery.
Section (3)(a) explains “in the course of committing the robbery” as when it occurs in the attempt to commit the robbery or in flight after the attempt of committing the robbery.
A defendant who has been charged with robbery including any of the above enhanced factors can face a first-degree felony. In Florida, the penalty for a first-degree felony is up to a $10,000 fine and up to 30 years in prison.
Other Types of Robbery Charges
The state of Florida has several additional types of robbery offenses a defendant may be charged with. The characteristics of the offense will determine which type of robbery charge the person may face. The following is a list of robbery charges in Florida:
- Robbery by Sudden Snatching
- Home-Invasion Robbery
Robbery by Sudden Snatching
Florida Statute Section 812.131 defines “robbery by sudden snatching” as the taking of money or property from a victim’s person, with the intent to deprive the owner of the money or property temporarily or permanently. During the offense, the victim must have been aware or become aware of the sudden taking. This type of crime can also be referred to as “purse snatching,” and is often associated with juvenile criminal offenses.
It is not necessary, under Florida law, for the prosecution to prove the following:
- The defendant used any force beyond the necessary effort to obtain the money or property by “sudden snatching;” or
- The victim displayed any resistance to the offender, or that the victim received any type of injury.
Robbery by sudden snatching is classified as a third-degree felony in Florida if the defendant did not possess a firearm or other deadly weapon at the time of the offense. In Florida, a third-degree felony has the penalty of up to a $5,000 fine and up to five years in prison.
If the defendant had a firearm or other deadly weapon in their possession during the robbery by sudden snatching offense, they can be charged with a second-degree felony.
Florida Statute Section 812.133 defines “carjacking” as when a person takes a motor vehicle which may be the subject of larceny from the person or custody of another, with the intent to either temporarily or permanently deprive the owner of their vehicle. In the course of taking such vehicle, the defendant used force, violence, assault, or instilling fear into the victim.
Unlike a regular robbery offense, carjacking is considered a first-degree felony regardless of whether the defendant used a weapon or firearm. That means any carjacking offense can result in up to $10,000 in fines and up to 30 years in prison.
Despite common misconception, home-invasion robbery is different from burglary. Florida Statute Section 812.135 defines “home-invasion robbery” as a robbery which occurs when the defendant has entered a dwelling (building or conveyance which has a roof and is designed to be occupied by people living there) with the intent to commit a robbery.
Similar to a carjacking offense, a home-invasion robbery crime is classified as a first-degree felony. Regardless of whether the defendant possessed a weapon or a firearm, any home-invasion robbery offense will be charged as a first-degree felony in Florida.
Defenses to a Robbery Charge
Getting accused of a robbery offense can be extremely stressful, and leave the defendant feeling as if they have no options. However it is important to remember there are still possible defenses which can be used to fight a robbery charge. The burden remains on the prosecution team to prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. By working with an experienced defense attorney, you can strategize to see if any of the following possible defenses work for your case:
- Mere Presence – Mere presence deals with the defendant’s involvement—or lack thereof—with an alleged crime. Federal law explains that to prosecute someone, more than mere presence is required. The key elements include the defendant’s association with the criminal act, and whether he or she acted in a way to further the offense. An example would be if a group of friends decided to commit a robbery, but one person expressed they did not wish to partake in the crime by standing elsewhere. Without proof that the defendant acted as an accomplice or attempted to commit the robbery themselves, it is difficult to convict such a person of a robbery charge.
- Afterthought – This defense can be used when the taking of property happened after another offense. For example, two people got into a physical altercation and after one became unconscious, the other stole a personal belonging off the unconscious person. In that situation, the defendant would face other charges instead of a robbery charge.
- Claim of Right – This defense can be used when the defendant has taken something they claim is their own property, meaning they have the right to do so. There must be evidence showing the defendant had good faith in believing he or she was the sole owner of the “stolen property” and that they were entitled to the possession of such property.
- False Accusation – False accusations can occur for a variety of reasons. Mistaken identity, revenge, or shifting the blame are all reasons why an alleged victim would make a false accusation. An experienced defense attorney can build a case to prove the defendant was falsely accused of robbery.
- Mistaken Identity – In some instances the victim, police, or other legal authority may give a description of the alleged robber which could lead to the defendant being falsely accused. Mistaken identity is a defense that can be used when the defendant had no relation to the alleged crime. Eyewitness identification has proven to be some of the least reliable evidence of a crime. Unfortunately, eyewitness identification can have a big impact on a jury. Many false convictions are the result of a mistaken eyewitness identification.
- Insufficient Evidence – The burden of proof falls on the State to prove that the crime was committed, and the defendant is the individual who committed the crime. That means if the prosecution is unable to provide sufficient evidence pinpointing the defendant as the person responsible for the robbery offense, insufficient evidence can be used as a defense in the case, as the prosecution has failed to meet its burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
It is highly recommended that you reach out to a defense attorney near you if you have been accused of a crime in Florida. An experienced Palm Beach criminal defense attorney can determine which defenses are applicable to your case.
Finding a Robbery Defense Attorney in South Florida
Any person who has been accused of a robbery offense in Florida should seek out a Palm Beach defense attorney in the area at their earliest opportunity. Robbery offenses are considered a violent crime. That means the State is likely to pursue the harshest of penalties in a robbery criminal case.
The criminal defense attorneys at Ian Goldstein Law have years of experience representing clients in the following counties: Palm Beach, Broward, Dade, Martin, and St. Lucie. We understand the stress one may feel after being arrested for a crime. Our attorneys will work toward building a strong defense for your case, while ensuring none of your rights are violated during any part of the legal process. To receive a free consultation regarding your case, contact Ian Goldstein’s team today at (561) 600-0950 or send us a message through our website.