What Are Some Defenses for Robbery in New Jersey?

  • Criminal Defense

Robbery is a serious crime, one that could be charged as a second-degree or a first-degree crime depending on the circumstances. As such, it comes with quite severe punishments: a conviction for second-degree robbery will land you five to ten years in prison and a fine of up to $150,000; first-degree robbery could see you in prison for twenty years!

It’s clear that robbery is no joke. That’s why we’re going to look at the potential defenses that an experienced attorney will use to help you so you don’t end up doing serious time. But in order to understand those defenses, we’re going to first need to see how robbery is different from a crime like theft. Once we understand what sets robbery apart, we can look at what the prosecution has to prove to show that you are guilty and how we build defenses around those core concepts.

What Sets Robbery Apart from Theft?

You might think of robbery and theft as interchangeable terms but they have very specific meanings set out for them in our laws.

Robbery is basically an upgraded form of theft. N.H.S.A. 2C:15-1 lays out three particular actions that will upgrade a theft into a robbery:

  • You inflict bodily injury or other force during the carrying out of the theft
  • You threaten or otherwise put the victim in immediate fear of bodily injury
  • You commit or threaten to commit a crime of the first or second degree during the carrying out of the theft, such as when you threaten to use a deadly weapon to get your way

These three criteria have some clear overlap with one another, but that only makes it easier to define robbery. However, we should take a closer look at a few of those terms:

  • Bodily Injury: New Jersey law defines bodily injury as physical pain, illness, or impairment of physical condition. So this covers clear injuries such as when a robber strikes a victim to get them to move faster, but it also covers events such as when a robber binds a victim’s arms.
  • Carrying Out the Theft: Carrying out the theft is a little misleading. Because of the way the law is written, threatening somebody during the robbery or threatening somebody while making an escape from the robbery both count as part of carrying out the theft. It is not just the moment of the robbery itself, but those moments directly tied to the robbery.

These are important features of robbery to keep in mind, as the prosecution will need to use them if they’re to win the case against you.

What Does the Prosecution Have to Prove to Win a Robbery Conviction?

Winning a robbery conviction is a lot harder to do than winning a conviction for theft. The actual criteria that are used to determine whether a robbery charge is applicable don’t focus on the theft component of robbery but rather on additional elements present during the theft crime.

As such, the prosecution needs to show the court that:

  • You committed or attempted to commit a theft
  • That you inflicted bodily injury or used force on another person, threatened another, or intentionally made them fear immediate bodily injury, or that you committed or threatened to commit a crime of the first or second degree in the course of the theft
  • That you engaged in this conduct during the course of the theft
  • That you acted purposefully

There is an additional point that the prosecution has to prove if the robbery is of the first degree. For a robbery charge to stick at this level the prosecution has to show that you attempted to kill somebody, purposefully inflicted or tried to inflict serious bodily injury, or you were armed with, used, or threatened to use a deadly weapon.

In America, you are innocent until proven guilty. The prosecution needs to prove each of these points in order to show that you are guilty of robbery. An experienced attorney will help you to come up with defenses that show that your case fails to meet all of the required components necessary to get a robbery conviction.

What Defenses Are there Against a Robbery Charge?

There are a number of potential defenses against a robbery charge. Your attorney will primarily focus on disproving one or more of those key points which the prosecution has to prove. For example, it is important that any actions that end in bodily injury were done purposefully; so if it can be shown that any bodily injury came about due to an accident and not your own purposeful action, there is a chance to reduce the charge.

Other ways in which an attorney will help create a defense or reduce the charges are:

  • To show that your arrest was illegal, or other potential police misconduct like failing to advise you of your Miranda rights against self-incrimination
  • Finding an alibi that can prove you were in a different location than where the incident allegedly occurred
  • To prove that witness testimony is false or unreliable
  • To prove your genuine belief in your right to the property in question
  • To show that the defendant did not have ownership of the property in question like they’ve alleged
  • To prove that racial, ethnic, socio-economic, sexual, or gender bias on the part of witnesses or police officers unfairly affected you and the situation you find yourself in
  • To show to the court that you’re only there because of a case of mistaken identity

These are just a few of the potential defenses and techniques which experienced attorneys use to help defend their clients from robbery charges here in New Jersey.

I’ve Been Charged with Robbery in New Jersey, What Should I Do?

If you are facing a robbery charge in New Jersey then you’ve already seen that they are no joke. The potential punishments for robbery are quite serious. That’s why it’s important that you take the charges seriously and reach out to a great attorney like those at The Hernandez Law Firm, P.C.

Our attorneys are ready to listen to your situation and help investigate the truth, to find that piece of evidence that will prove your innocence and let you move on from this troubling experience. You shouldn’t have to face this alone, an attorney is waiting to help you prove your innocence.

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