Have you been charged with Robby in the state of Florida? It’s important to take Florida robbery charges seriously and defend them vigorously. If you or a loved one have a pending robbery charge in Tampa, Lutz, or Lakeland Florida, contact us today for a consultation on your case.
It is easy to confuse robbery with theft, but under Florida law, there is a major difference in the two offenses. According to Florida Statute 812.13, robbery involves the offender taking something away from a victim, like money or personal property, with the use of force, or the threat of force or violence. Larceny and other theft crimes, like shop-lifting or embezzlement, do not involve confrontation with the threat or use of force or violence.
An example often used to distinguish the offenses involves a person walking down the street. If you approach the person, point your gun at the victim and tell him or her to hand over their wallet, it is armed robbery since you confronted the person with a deadly weapon and used the threat of violence in order to take the property.
It is robbery, not armed robbery, if you grabbed the person and said “I’m going to punch you in the face if you do not give me your wallet.” The threat of violence did not involve the use of a deadly weapon.
If you are standing beside a person and slyly lift their wallet from a purse or pocket, unbeknownst to the victim, it is not robbery at all. It is a type of theft crime, but not any type of robbery since there was no use, or threat of use, of a weapon or of violence. However, if the person does happen to notice you attempting to steal, you could be facing a charge of Robbery by Sudden Snatching.
What is the Difference Between Robbery and Armed Robbery?
Robbery is defined by Florida law 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.”
Armed robbery occurs when the offender uses a deadly weapon, like a knife or gun, to threaten force, violence or to put the victim in fear. Armed robbery is a much more serious offense and carries a much greater penalty that simply robbery.
Florida Criminal Statute 812.13.
What are the Penalties for Armed Robbery in Florida?
If during the course of the taking, the offender carried a “firearm or other deadly weapon,” the crime, according to the statute, is armed robbery punishable by:
- Up to life in prison.
- A fine of up to $10,000.
If the offender has a prior felony, the sentence will be enhanced. Also, if the weapon was a firearm, and the offender is also charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm, mandatory minimum sentencing will apply.
Florida Criminal Statutes 812.13, 775.082, 775.083, and 775.084.
What are the Penalties for Robbery in Florida?
If in the course of the taking, the offender carried “no firearm, deadly weapon, or other weapon, then the robbery is a felony punishable by:
- Up to 15 years in prison.
- A fine of up to $10,000.
Florida Criminal Statutes 812.13, 775.082, 775.083, 775.084.
What Must the Prosecutor Prove in Order to Get a Conviction?
There are four elements prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt in order to get a conviction.
- The offender actually took money or property from the victim without consent of the owner.
- The offender, during the course of the taking, used force or the threat of force to put the victim in fear of being hurt or killed.
- The property taken had some value.
- The offender had the intent to temporarily or permanently deprive the owner of the property.
If proof is lacking on any one element, the prosecution’s case is no good.
What are the BEST defenses to a Robbery Charge?
If you are charged with robbery or armed robbery, the situation may seem dire, but depending on the facts and circumstances, there are defenses available that may result in either reduced charges or dismissal of the charges.
- “Afterthought defense.” The taking is an “afterthought” to the force that was used. In one case, the defendant got into a fight with a man over something unrelated to the taking of property. When the victim was lying on the ground, seemingly unconscious, the defendant then took items from the man, like his cell phone, keys and wallet. The appellate court said this was not robbery, since the use of force was not used to compel the victim to relinquish his money or property. The taking was an “afterthought.” See DeJesus v. State, 98 So.3d 105 (2012). The robbery charge was dismissed.
- Offender has a well-founded belief he or she owns the property. A complete defense to robbery charges is when an offender has a “well-founded belief” that the property he or she is taking actually belongs to him or her and not to the person from whom they are taking it. The offense may be assault or battery due to the use of the threat of force or violence, but it is not robbery or any other theft crime. See TDW v. State, 42 So.3d 959 (2010).
- An alibi. The offender has been erroneously identified and can show proof of being somewhere else at the time the offense was committed.
- Proof of an element is missing. The prosecutor cannot prove every element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt.
How Can a Lawyer Help Me Fight Robbery Charges in Florida?
If you are arrested for robbery in Tampa, Lakeland or Lutz, contact an experienced Florida robbery attorney. We will evaluate your case and work to get all charges dismissed. If we do go to trial, we will vigorously defend you against these charges in an effort to mitigate any penalties. Call Thomas C. Grajek, Attorney at Law, to set up a consultation today!