Armed Robbery & Robbery, and Robbery by Sudden Snatching

Robbery: Robbery in simple terms is Assault and Theft combined. It is larceny, stealing or theft from another by force or threat of force, violence or putting fear in the victim. If the Robber uses a Firearm (gun) or deadly weapon he faces a felony of the 1st degree punishable by a term of years not to exceed life. If the Robber uses another type of weapon then he faces a 1st degree felony. If the Robber carried no weapon then he faces a 2nd degree felony. F.S. 812.13.

The most important aspect about Robbery is that it is a crime against the person not a crime against the property even though they go hand and hand with each other. Often you hear the phrase “he robbed my house” you don’t rob a house you rob a person. There may be a burglary to the house, but not a robbery to the house. There may be a robbery committed against someone in the house as in a home invasion, but you don’t rob the house.

Prosecution of robbery is contingent upon proving the underlying larceny. Any defense to larceny is a defense to robbery. Recovering your property from someone who unlawfully obtained it would be a defense to larceny. Of course that could leave room for the charge of battery or assault. If someone has unlawfully taken your property it is best to contact the police and not take the law into your own hands. O.J. Simpson made this claim to recapture his memorabilia in Las Vegas, well you know the results.

Assault and Battery Charges have their own unique defenses and are discussed in those sections of my website.

Once the prosecution has established the element of larceny they must also prove the aggravating factors of forcibly taking from the victim’s person.

From the victim’s person includes the area around the victim and not just what is in his pocket or purse. Forcing someone, who is standing next to their car, by ordering them by threat of violence to give it up, is Robbery. (“Carjacking”).

Breaking into a car and stealing it while the owner is in a restaurant is not Robbery. It is more likely a crime of Burglary and Grand Theft Auto.

If threat of physical intimidation is used to steal property from another this also robbery. The threat must be an immediate imminent threat and not a future threat. Future threats of harm may constitute “extortion”. For example: “If you don’t pay me $500.00 by Friday I will burn your store down” is extortion. If the criminal approaches two people e.g. a husband and wife and the criminal points the gun at the wife and tells the husband “give me your wallet” this is Robbery.

Further there is also the charge of Robbery “by a sudden snatching” which can be found at Florida Statute 812.131. Robbery by sudden snatching” means the taking of money or other property from the victim’s person, with intent to permanently or temporarily deprive the victim or the owner of the money or other property, when, in the course of the taking, the victim was or became aware of the taking. In order to satisfy this definition, it is not necessary to show that the offender used any amount of force beyond that effort necessary to obtain possession of the money or other property. Robbery by sudden snatching should not be confused with “pick-pocketing”. The contemporaneous awareness of the physical theft presents the robbery element. A criminal walks up and snatches a purse off a woman’s shoulder would be Robbery by sudden snatching. Unlike Sneaky Pete the crook who lifts your wallet and walks away and you discover it missing hours later

New Appellate Ruling

Putting victim in fear — Defendant who entered bank, handed teller a note which stated, “this is a robbery,” and demanded money, was properly convicted of robbery, although teller said she wasn’t afraid of what was happening — In the case of a fear-based robbery, trier of fact must determine whether defendant’s conduct would have placed a reasonable person, not just the actual victim, in fear of death or great bodily harm.

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