Robbery is a very serious crime and unlike mere theft, it is considered a violent offense. If you are found guilty of robbery, you can be sentenced to life in prison depending on the circumstances of the case. Therefore, it is extremely important to have an experienced and knowledgeable Tampa criminal defense attorney on your side.
Florida Statute 812.13 defines robbery as “the taking of money or other property which may be the subject of larceny from the person or custody of another, with intent to either permanently or temporarily deprive the person or the owner of the money or other property, when in the course of the taking there is the use of force, violence, assault, or putting in fear.”
This means that in order to proof robbery the state has to proof the following four elements:
The defendant took something of value from the victim.
The victim did not consent to the defendant taking the property.
The defendant had an intent to temporarily or permanently deprive the victim of the property taken.
The defendant used violence or threatened violence or put the victim in fear.
The 4th element of violence or threat of violence is what differentiates robbery from theft. This means that if the defendant takes the victim’s wallet out of her purse and the victim does not notice until some later time, it is not a robbery but simply theft. However, if the victim becomes aware of the defendant stealing her wallet out of her purse, the defendant could be charged with robbery by sudden snatching.
Robbery will be elevated to armed robbery and a first-degree felony if the defendant carried a weapon. If the defendant had a firearm or other deadly weapon, the maximum penalty is life in prison. Therefore, robbery with a deadly weapon is the most serious charge. If the defendant simply carried a weapon but not a deadly weapon, it would still be an armed robbery and a first-degree felony but the maximum penalty is 30 years in prison.
The question is what is considered a deadly weapon. According to Florida law a weapon is considered deadly if it is used in a way that it is likely to produce death or great bodily harm. For example, a gun is obviously a deadly weapon but based on that definition even a stone if it is big enough and thrown from a bridge can be a deadly weapon.
If the defendant did not have any type of weapon while committing the robbery, he or she can only be charged with a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
A defendant would be guilty of robbery by sudden snatching if he or she tries to steal something from the victim, such as a purse, and the victim becomes aware of this. An example would also be if the victim had a phone in his or her hand and the defendant rips the phone out of the victim’s hand. However, if the defendant steals the victim’s wallet out of the victim’s pocket and the victim does not realize until a few minutes later, it is simply theft. Robbery by sudden snatching is a second-degree felony and punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
A defendant is guilty of carjacking if he or she steals the victim’s car using force or the threat of force. Carjacking is a first-degree felony and punishable by up to 30 years in prison. However, if the defendant used a gun or other deadly weapon, the maximum penalty is life in prison.
A defendant is guilty of home invasion robbery if he or she breaks into a house with the intent to commit a robbery. Just like carjacking, home invasion robbery is a first-degree felony punishable by up to 30 years in prison. If the defendant is carrying a deadly weapon while committing a home invasion robbery, he or she could be sentenced to life in prison.
An example of this is if the defendant and victim had a fight and in the course of the fight the victim becomes unconscious and the defendant decides to steal the victim’s wallet only after the victim is unconscious.
The defendant cannot be charged with robbery if he or she has a reasonable belief that the property that was taken rightfully belongs to the defendant. In that case even if force is used, no actual theft occurred.
In order to convict a defendant of robbery, the prosecutor has to prove all of the elements of the charge, including the use of force or threat of force. If the prosecutor fails to prove any one element beyond a reasonable doubt, the charge of robbery cannot stand.
Another complete defense to a robbery charge is alibi. This applies if the defendant can present evidence that he or she was somewhere else at the time the robbery was committed.
If you are charges with robbery in Tampa, Plant City or Lakeland don’t wait to contact the Wade Law Firm for a free consultation at 813-401-0130. We recommend retaining an attorney before charges are filed so that your attorney can contact the state attorney’s office about whether or not charges should be filed and if what type of charges since there is a wide range of robbery charges.