Similar to other violent felony offenses, accusations of robbery should be taken seriously, as this crime is aggressively prosecuted in the state of Florida. Under Florida law, robbery is generally considered a second-degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison, 15 years of probation, and a $10,000 fine—among other harsh sanctions the Court may impose. It’s noteworthy to point out that robbery may be enhanced to a first-degree felony, punishable by life imprisonment, if the accused carried a firearm or other deadly weapon—in the course of committing the offense. A person charged with robbery should seek the services of an attorney who has experience handling robbery cases. A charge of this caliber should not be handled alone, as a conviction can have devastating consequences.
Robbery is governed by Florida Statute 812.13 and is defined as the intentional taking of property of another, by the use of force, violence, assault, or fear. Therefore, the State must prove four independent elements: (1) intent; (2) taking; (3) property; and (4) force, violence, assault, threat, or fear.
The intent required to prove robbery is the intent to take property from another—the owner or person in lawful custody of said property. The perpetrator may have the intent to either permanently or temporarily deprive the owner of their property. The second component the State must prove is that there was a taking from the victim or the custody of the victim. The accused must take the owner’s property without their consent or permission. The victim does not have to be the actual owner of the property taken. It is sufficient if the victim is in custody of the property at the time of the offense. The third thing the State must prove is that the property taken had value—even nominal.
Lastly, the prosecution must prove that force, violence, assault, or fear was used in the course of the taking. The law does not require that the victim resist to any particular extent or that the victim offer any actual physical resistance if the circumstances are such that the victim is placed in fear of death or great bodily harm if he or she does resist; but unless prevented by fear, there must be some resistance to make the taking one done by force or violence.
If the circumstances were such as to ordinarily induce fear in the mind of a reasonable person, then the victim may be found to have been in fear, and actual fear on the part of the victim does not need to be illustrated. Smithson v. State, 689 So. 2d 1226 (Fla. 5th DCA 1997). In other words, fear is determined based on whether a reasonable person would have been in fear. As you can imagine, it would be very difficult to know whether a person was actually in fear.
The crime of robbery can be upgraded in severity, or enhanced, depending on whether a weapon was used, and the type of weapon used. If in the course of committing a robbery the person uses a weapon, the crime is a first-degree felony, punishable by up to 30 years in prison—among a combination of other severe sanctions. If the weapon is a firearm or considered a deadly weapon, the crime is a first-degree felony, punishable by up to life imprisonment.
With the right legal team behind you, robbery is a highly defensible crime. Below are some common defenses to a robbery charge:
- Mere presence;
- Mere presence at the scene of the robbery is insufficient;
- If you are with someone who suddenly decides to rob another person, you cannot be convicted as an accomplice unless you did something in furtherance of said crime.
- The taking occurred as an afterthought to the use of force, violence, or threat;
- The afterthought defense is a common defense to a robbery charge.
- e.g. the defendant gets into a fight with another person, knocks the victim out, and then decides to take his wallet. Under these facts, it would not constitute a robbery.
- Note: the accused can still be convicted of a lesser offense—but not robbery.
- Claim of right or ownership of property defense;
- Under this defense, the accused had a good faith belief the property they forcibly took was theirs or that they had a valid claim to it. The accused will need to prove evidence supporting their claim.
- Identity issues;
- Lack of intent;
- Alibi defense;
- Among other defenses our firm as successfully used, including pre-trial and trial defenses.
If you or a loved one has been accused of committing a robbery, the legal team at the Schisani Law Firm is here to help you. Not only does our firm have extensive legal experience with violent felony crimes, we pride ourselves in aggressively fighting for each and every client—and our results speak for themselves. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the Schisani Law Firm at (407) 853-2606, or alternatively, via e-mail at [email protected]