Robbery is defined by Florida Statute §812.13 as taking money or property of monetary value from another person’s custody to temporarily or permanently deprive the person of the property/money. Perpetrators of robbery often use violence, force, or assault to invoke fear in their victims.
Under Florida law, robbery is a serious crime, and offenders often get aggressively pursued and prosecuted. A conviction has long-term repercussions, including jail time, fines, and a permanent criminal record.
If you or a loved one is facing robbery charges in West Palm Beach, you need a skilled violent crimes lawyer to defend your rights and help secure the best possible outcome. At Meltzer & Bell, P.A., we know too well that a robbery charge can turn your life upside-down. For this reason, we strive to defend your legal rights and freedoms by providing outstanding legal counsel and representation.
Elements of Robbery Under Florida Law
According to Florida Statute § 812.13, the crime of robbery needs to be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. You can only get convicted of the offense if the prosecution proves these four elements:
- You took property from the alleged victim’s custody.
- You used force, assault, violence, or put the alleged victim in imminent fear of harm when committing the robbery.
- The property was valuable.
- There was intent to permanently or temporarily deprive the victim of their right to the said property or money and the benefit of using it.
It’s best to remember that “when committing the robbery” also includes all acts committed during an attempted robbery and while fleeing after a robbery attempt or commission of an armed robbery.
The Florida Robbery Statute: Useful Definitions
When facing robbery charges, there are several definitions you should understand to have a clear picture of the alleged crimes. Some of the useful definitions under Florida Statute Section 812.13 include:
It implies dispossessing a victim of property under their possession, control, or custody. Defendants in robbery cases often stand accused of “taking” their victims’ property by force, fear, or violence.
This implies using violence or assaulting the victim while robbing them to overcome resistance. It could also imply making the victim fearful and deterring them from resisting the robbery attempt.
3. In the course of Taking
This implies the actions that occur concurrently with or after depriving the victim of their property. The acts are considered a continuation of the robbery.
Types of Robbery in Florida
There are several types of robbery crimes in Florida. A robbery lawyer in West Palm Beach can defend different robbery offenses, including:
Robbery By Sudden Snatching
Also known as purse snatching, this robbery offense falls under Florida Statutes §812.131 and is among the most common robbery crimes in Florida. The offense often gets charged as a third-degree felony. If the defendant carried or used a firearm or any deadly weapon during the robbery, the charge can get upgraded to a second-degree felony.
Under Florida law, you get convicted of robbery by sudden snatching even if the prosecutor fails to prove that:
- You used force to rob the alleged victim of their possession.
- The victim resisted your attempt to rob them.
- The victim got injured or harmed.
Home Invasion Robbery
West Palm Beach has some of the lowest home invasion rates in Florida, but these crimes still occur. Home invasion robberies fall under Florida Statutes §812.135 and differ from burglaries. A home invasion robbery occurs when the offender forcibly enters a dwelling intending to commit a robbery and proceeds to commit the offense with the occupants therein.
While committing the home invasion robbery without a firearm or deadly weapon, the crime will be charged as a second-degree felony. Nonetheless, some enhanced punishments may come into play if the defendant carried a gun or deadly weapon during the home invasion. In this case, the crime will be charged as a first-degree felony.
Under Florida Statutes §812.133, carjacking is defined as the forceful taking of a vehicle in the custody of another person. Nonetheless, carjacking differs from grand theft due to the extent of violence involved. For you to be convicted of carjacking, the prosecution must prove that the crime was perpetrated to temporarily or permanently deprive the vehicle’s owner.
The prosecutor must also prove that the defendant used force, violence, or made the victim fearful while taking the vehicle. Carjacking is a first-degree felony if the defendant used or carried a weapon while committing the crime.
This robbery offense is defined as unlawfully taking, leading, carrying, or riding away property from a victim’s possession or constructive possession. Larceny often gets confused with theft, but the two crimes differ. Larceny involves taking another person’s movable property, while theft is a broader category encompassing stealing movable and immovable property.
Larceny doesn’t necessarily involve violence or force while taking or carrying away the victim’s property. Conversely, theft is the broader term implying robbery offenses that involve taking someone else’s property. This is irrespective of whether the defendant used deception, feat, force, or violence.
Armed Robbery vs Strong Armed Robbery
Florida prosecutors can file two types of robbery charges regardless of the robbery crime you’re charged for:
1. Strong Armed Robbery
Robbery crimes involving threats, force, or violence are considered strong-armed robberies. They get charged as second-degree felonies in Florida.
2. Armed Robbery
As the name suggests, these are robbery offenses that involve the use of deadly weapons. Armed robbery is a first-degree felony in Florida.
Since violence, force, fear, or assault are the main elements that distinguish robbery from theft, many people face trumped-up robbery charges when they should be charged with theft. For this reason, it’s best to place your defense in the hands of an experienced West Palm Beach robbery lawyer who can aggressively defend your rights.
Penalties for a Robbery Conviction in Florida
Robbery cases in Florida often get prosecuted aggressively. State prosecutors often push for severe penalties and jail terms. Robbery in the second degree is a Level 6 offense under the Florida Criminal Punishment Code. A conviction can result in a combination of these penalties:
- A 15-year jail term
- A maximum fine of $15,000.
- Up to 15 years probation.
Conversely, robbery in the first degree (armed robbery) is considered a more serious offense that can result in life imprisonment. You face a 20-year mandatory minimum sentence if you fired a weapon while committing or attempting to commit the robbery.
For first-degree robbery charges, the sentence a defendant can receive enhanced penalties determined by various factors, including:
- Their prior criminal record.
- The type of weapon used while committing the crime.
- If there’s a history of violent crimes.
- The value of the stolen property.
- Whether or not the victim suffered injuries.
Whether you’re facing first or second-degree robbery charges, a conviction puts a lot at stake. Besides getting jailed and fined, you risk having a permanent criminal record that hinders your career, school, and life opportunities.
Also, it’s best to remember that Florida prosecutors often recommend maximum robbery sentencing for defendants. For this reason, you should consult a robbery lawyer West Palm Beach to defend your rights. At Meltzer & Bell, P.A., we understand the repercussions of a robbery conviction and are committed to fighting for reduced charges or an acquittal.
Lesser Offenses Related to Robbery
Robbery is one of the most severe criminal charges under Florida law and attracts considerable penalties and punishment. While handling robbery cases, the experienced attorneys at the law offices of Meltzer & Bell, P.A. often fight for acquittal or lesser offenses such as:
- Petit Theft
Under Florida Statutes 812.014, petit theft isn’t considered serious compared with other theft crimes. Petite crimes include shoplifting and theft involving lost property.
This is a crime of words or actions constituting a threat to another individual. For instance, if you threaten to rob someone without proceeding with the threat, you’ll face assault charges instead of robbery charges.
- Aggravated Assault
Under Florida law, aggravated assault is an advanced form of assault using a deadly weapon to commit a felony. So, if you had a weapon with you but didn’t rob the alleged victim, we can fight to have charged with aggravated assault rather than armed robbery.
Under Florida law, trespass is the willful entry and stay on another person’s property without their implied or express permission. Many people get wrongly charged with home invasion robbery, yet they only trespassed into private property.
Since robbery is both a violent crime and a property crime, it’s easy to get charged for a related offense you didn’t commit. This will undoubtedly make the potential penalties even more severe. Thus, it’s best to have an experienced West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney to defend you and fight for the best possible outcome in your case.
Defenses to Robbery Charges in Florida
When charged with robbery, you can only get convicted if the state proves specific elements of the crime. The criminal defense attorneys at Meltzer & Bell, P.A. can raise various defenses to prevent the prosecution from proving these elements. Common defenses to robbery include:
- Mistaken Identity or false accusation.
- A claim of right.
The sooner you discuss your case with our team, the more time we’ll have to build a strong defense. Regardless of how severe your robbery charges are, we can give you a fighting chance and another shot at freedom.
Why You Need a Robbery Lawyer West Palm Beach
When facing robbery charges in West Palm Beach or elsewhere, you may think you can handle the matter without an attorney. That’s particularly the case with first-time offenders who mistakenly think they can easily be left off the hook. Nonetheless, that’s far from the truth because the consequences of even the most minor robbery charges can be life-long.
For this reason, you need a skilled criminal defense attorney with a proven track record of advocating robbery cases in West Palm Beach. Here’s why you need an attorney:
They Understand the Law
Florida’s criminal law is complicated with various statutes that apply to your case. Whether you’re charged with armed robbery or petty theft, having an attorney gives you a fighting chance. Having handled similar cases, an attorney understands the laws and defenses that apply to your case and how to obtain a favorable outcome.
Unfortunately, many defendants face trumped-up robbery charges. Prosecutors have law enforcement officers to help build a watertight case against you. You need an equally adept lawyer who can investigate the facts of your alleged crime, examine the evidence, and interview witnesses. The same cannot be said if you opt not to have a criminal defense lawyer.
Hiring Expert Witnesses
Expert witnesses play a critical role in criminal matters, especially when they testify on your behalf. Your attorney can identify expert witnesses to challenge DNA findings, research prosecution witnesses, and dispute the prosecution’s evidence. All this is done to tilt the case in your favor.
Sometimes, the police disregard the laws and procedures for the collection of evidence against robbery suspects. During the trial, your attorney can challenge illegally obtained evidence by filing a motion to suppress it. They can also poke holes into the evidence presented in court and build a strong defense.
Formulating a Sentencing Program
If your attorney presents a robust defense that helps you avoid jail, they can also negotiate for a robbery sentencing program to address the underlying issues of your criminal problems. For instance, they can negotiate for you to perform community service or enroll in an alcohol treatment program rather than serving a jail term.
Contact a Robbery Lawyer West Palm Beach
Robbery is a serious criminal offense in Florida. Whether you’re in for armed robbery, carjacking, or home invasion robbery, a conviction can result in the loss of your freedom and more. The best decision to make is secure the legal representation and guidance of the attorneys at Meltzer & Bell, P.A. Protect your freedom and rights by contacting us to schedule a free initial consultation.