Defendants accused of robbery in Florida must understand the gravely serious nature of the allegations and why it is necessary to hire an experienced legal team.
At The Law Offices of Richard Ansara, our Fort Lauderdale robbery defense lawyers know what is necessary to successfully defend our clients in these cases. Even when the evidence seems insurmountable, there is almost always a way to mitigate the long-term damage.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) reports there is one robbery every 24 minutes in this state. In 2014, there were a total of 21,500 robberies reported in the state, with approximately 8,600 of those committed with a firearm.
Here, we’ll explain more how the State of Florida defines robbery, what penalties are prescribed for conviction and what strategies have proven especially effective for defense teams.What is Robbery?
Robbery is defined by F.S. 812.13(1). It means defendant is alleged to have:
- Taken money or other property;
- From the custody of another person;
- With intent to permanently or temporarily deprive the person or owner of that money or property;
- And in the course of the taking, used force, violence, assault or threat.
There are a number of different kinds of robbery, including:
- Robbery by Sudden Snatching
- Robbery with a Deadly Weapon
- Robbery with a Firearm
- Home Invasion Robbery
Penalties will vary depending on the type of robbery alleged.Robbery by Sudden Snatching
The legal definition of robbery by sudden snatching is spelled out in F.S. 812.131, and it means to:
- Take money or property;
- From the victim’s person;
- With intent to permanently or temporarily deprive victim or owner of the property;
- And in the course of taking, victim was or became aware of the taking.
The statute further indicates that in order to prove this, prosecutors need to show defendant either:
Used force beyond the effort necessary to obtain possession of money or property;
Victim resisted the offender and suffered injury as a result.
Robbery by snatching is generally a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison. However, if defendant was armed with a deadly weapon, the punishment is increased to a second-degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison.Robbery With a Deadly Weapon
Robbery with a deadly weapon may be charged if during the crime of robbery, defendant is armed or becomes armed with a deadly weapon. This would include items like knives or baseball bats.
A weapon may be deemed “deadly” if it:
- Is used or threatened to be used in a way that is likely to produce death or great bodily harm.
It’s important to note prosecutors don’t need to prove that weapon was used in order to carry out the force, violence, assault or threat. It’s enough for them to show defendant had the weapon in his or her possession.
Robbery with a deadly weapon is a first-degree felony, with a Level 8 offense severity ranking on Florida’s Criminal Punishment Code. That means the minimum penalty is 34.5 months. The maximum penalty is 30 years in prison, 30 years of probation and up to $10,000 in fines.Robbery With a Firearm
If a defendant possess a firearm during a robbery, it’s a Level 9 offense and it’s a first-degree felony. The minimum mandatory penalty is 48 months. The maximum penalty is life in prison, lifetime probation and up to $15,000 in fines. Discharging a firearm in the course of a robbery would increase the penalty.Home Invasion Robbery A defendant who enters a dwelling to commit a robbery commits a home invasion robbery. Florida law defines this as a Level 8 offense and a first-degree felony, punishable by up to 30 years in prison, 30 years of probation or up to $10,000 in fines. However, if a weapon is involved (and they usually are), it’s deemed a Level 10 offense, with a minimum sentence of 66 months (5 years, 6 months) in prison, or up to a life in prison. Defenses to Robbery
A number of pretrial and trial defenses can be raised in robbery cases that might be applicable in any other. Some examples include suppression of evidence or dismissal of case due to:
- Illegal search and seizure
- Statute of limitations
- Warrantless stop
But there are also some defenses that are unique to the crime of robbery. Those include:
- Claim of Right Defense – Forcible taking of property with the bona fide “claim of right” is not a robbery so long as the taker has a good faith belief he or she is the owner and is entitled to immediate possession.
- Afterthought Defense – In cases where defendant is charged with more serious versions of the crime (i.e., robbery with a deadly weapon), one may be able to argue the taking of property was an afterthought to the use of violence. That may not be enough to shield one from all criminal charges, but it may be sufficient to have the robbery charges reduced or dismissed.
These are just examples of possible defenses. The exact strategy deployed will depend on the unique circumstances of each case.