Dealing with criminal charges is a serious situation. A conviction would have a long-lasting negative effect on your personal life, professional reputation, and overall quality of life. Armed robbery, though sharing many of the traits of unarmed robbery, has a significantly more severe punishment. If you are facing armed robbery charges, you need an experienced Phoenix criminal defense attorney to help you.
What Is Armed Robbery?
The foundational definition of armed robbery is a robbery committed while wielding a weapon of some kind. It has three major elements – theft allegation, the use of force, and the use, pretense, or display of a weapon. A theft allegation is an accusation of stealing another person’s property. Some states require that the defendant must have completed the theft for an armed robbery charge. Other states only require that the person was clearly attempting to steal something.
The second central element is the use of force. The main difference between a theft and a robbery, as explained by a robbery lawyer in Phoenix, is that a robbery includes the use of force. It does not need to be a physical force. The court could consider other actions such as destroying property or breaking objects to intimidate the person as a use of force. Aggressive or threatening words also constitute the use of force.
The final part of armed robbery is the weapon. In an armed robbery, the defendant used or displayed a weapon in some way. The defendant does not need to have used the weapon. Wielding an unloaded gun is enough for a robbery to become armed robbery.
Armed Robbery Punishments
Armed robbery is a violent offense, leading many states to significantly increase the punishment. The severity of the punishment often depends on whether the defendant injured or killed someone during the robbery as well as with other factors such as prior criminal record and the type of gun he or she used.
The defendant could face five years to a lifetime in prison. Armed robbery charges also come with higher parole standards. It is difficult to get probation in armed robbery, but in certain circumstances, the defendant can get probation if his or her attorney can prove that he or she played a minimal role in the crime or was subject to difficult circumstances.
An experienced criminal defense attorney can use certain defenses that could help the defendant face minimal punishment. One of the most common defenses is mistaken identity. Because the police often base the identification on the victim’s description, the defendant can argue that the victim is accusing the wrong person. However, the mistaken identity defense is not effective if there is video or other evidence that the defendant committed the armed robbery.
Another tactic is to try reducing the accusation from armed robbery to robbery. The defense attorney may be able to argue about the presence of the weapon. If he or she can effectively prove to the court that the defendant did not have a weapon, the court could give the defendant a much less severe punishment. For example, police officers could say that they saw a weapon in the defendant’s pocket during the robbery. The defense attorney could argue that the defendant never used or displayed the weapon, making it irrelevant in the robbery. If the case is already in a trial, it is not as effective as if the attorney uses it during the appeals process when the court is deciding if there is sufficient evidence.
Mistaken identity and irrelevance of the weapon are only two of the possible defenses for an armed robbery charge. Attorneys may also use arguments about lack of evidence, false allegations, or improper arrest.