Robbery is the taking of money or property from a person through the use of actual or threatened violence. It is both a property crime and a violent crime. Florida Statute 812.13 and Florida Standard Jury Instruction 15.1 reveal that Robbery comprises four basic elements:
“Slick” Willie Sutton famously answered “because that’s where the money is” when asked why he robbed banks. This seemingly obvious answer is a legal impossibility under Florida law. Robberies can happen anywhere (including inside a bank), but the only thing that can be robbed is a person. Robbery is in part a property crime, but it is equally a violent crime against a human being.
Charges for a violent crime can be life-changing. It is important that you know what you are up against and that you know your rights! Do not talk to a law enforcement officer until you have retained an experienced criminal defense attorney in Tampa to protect your rights.
Attorney Joel Elsea has over a decade of experience handling serious and violent felony criminal cases, including every type of robbery. He can help you receive the best possible results in your case.
Elsea Law Firm, P.A. is based in Tampa, but we serve clients throughout the Tampa Bay Area and the rest of the state, including Clearwater in Pinellas County, Bartow in Polk County, and Bradenton in Manatee County. Call (813) 451-8583 to request a free consultation.
The elements of robbery are listed at the top of this page and form a base upon which many different charges can be built. The force/violence component of robbery does not require that a weapon be involved. For this reason, robbery is sometimes referred to as “strongarm” robbery- especially when it is being differentiated from other types of Florida robberies.
A robbery must include either resistance from the victim to the taking of the property OR the presence of fear in the victim’s mind of the consequences of resisting the taking. Thus, if a bank teller responds to a note from a robber by doing exactly what the robber demands with no hesitation, a robbery still occurs because of the fear of potential consequences for not complying with the note.
A Florida robber who thinks himself clever cannot “Bill Cosby” himself around the force/violence/fear/resistance problem by rendering a victim unconscious to take property. The Florida Standard Jury Instructions are quite clear on this point; if a substance is given to a victim with the intent to make the victim lose consciousness, a subsequent taking completes the crime of robbery.
There are two crimes in Florida that exist in the middle ground between theft (a taking of property with no force/violence/fear- a misdemeanor in many circumstances) and robbery (a taking with force/violence/ fear- a second degree felony).
Robbery by sudden snatching happens when an object is taken directly from a person’s custody without minimal, or no force. Think purse-snatching. Florida Statute 812.131 defines robbery by sudden snatching the following way:
The state does not have to prove that the defendant used any force beyond that effort necessary to obtain possession of the money or property, or that the victim resisted or suffered injury.
Resisting a merchant is a crime that typically occurs when a theft is discovered in a retail setting and the alleged thief tries to avoid capture using force that falls below the threshold of that required for a robbery. This is an unusual charge that has no less than five (5) elements, per Florida Statute 812.015(6).
This lesser included offense of robbery is also known as “Resisting Recovery of Stolen Property.”
There are several ways that the government can enhance a robbery charge into a more serious crime.
If a robber in Florida uses a weapon to impose their will on a victim, increased penalties will apply. A robbery will become an armed robbery only when a defendant carries a weapon during the robbery. As such, an unarmed person who hands a note to a bank teller demanding money commits only a robbery, regardless of whether he threatens the use of a weapon in the note. Florida law makes a distinction between mere weapons and “deadly weapons” in robbery law. Firearms are ALWAYS considered deadly weapons when used in a robbery.
Carjacking is a crime that increases the penalty for a robbery because of what is taken from the victim. Motor vehicles, regardless of value, are given special protection as objects of robbery in Florida.
Home invasion robbery is a crime that increases the penalty for a robbery because of where it occurs. A home invasion robbery is a combination of a robbery and a burglary of a dwelling. Florida Statute 812.135 lists the seven elements of this crime. It is a serious crime that can be difficult to prove because of the technical nature of the elements.
As mentioned earlier, robbery is both a property crime and a crime of violence. The penalties for different types of robberies in Florida typically depend much more upon the amount of force or violence used than upon the value of property that was taken from the victim.
Elsea Law Firm, P.A.is experienced in helping clients fight a variety of robbery charges, including robbery, robbery by sudden snatching, armed robbery, carjacking, and home invasion robbery. If you or a loved one has been charged with robbery, contact an experienced robbery defense lawyer in Tampa. Call attorney Joel Elsea at (813) 451-8583 to find out how he fights these serious criminal charges throughout Hillsborough County and the surrounding Tampa Bay Area.