Robbery is an extremely serious charge in Missouri. A person charged with robbery faces a felony charge, with years in prison possible. There are ways to defend your case if the prosecutor cannot prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
With the assistance of an experienced Missouri criminal defense lawyer, any questions or concerns you have about your charges will be effectively addressed. You can defend your case to protect your constitutional rights.
A robbery occurs when a person takes property from another person by violence or intimidation and with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of his or her property. In Missouri, the offense may be either in the first degree or the second degree.
First-degree robbery is defined by Mo. Rev. Stat. Section 570.023. A person commits the offense of robbery in the first degree if he or she forcibly steals property, and in the course of that taking, that person or another participant in the offense
- causes serious physical injury to any person,
- is armed with a deadly weapon,
- uses or threatens the immediate use of a dangerous instrument against any person,
- displays or threatens the use of what appears to be a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument, or
- steals any controlled substance from a pharmacy.
A first-degree robbery charge is a Class A felony.
“Deadly weapon” means any firearm, loaded or unloaded, or any weapon from which a shot, readily capable of producing death or serious physical injury may be discharged, or a switchblade knife, dagger, billy, blackjack or metal knuckles. This definition comes straight from Mo. Rev. Stat. Section 556.061.
Use of a deadly weapon during a robbery will ultimately lead to a first-degree robbery offense. This includes simply threatening to use the weapon, even if you never do so.
This also includes when you threaten to use a deadly weapon, even if you do not have one. Or, this also includes where you use something that looks like a deadly weapon, even though it is not one. This would include using:
- a toy gun,
- an inoperable gun,
- a plastic knife,
- fake metal knuckles, or
- a fake bomb.
Second-degree robbery is defined by Mo. Rev. Stat. Section 570.025. A person commits the offense of robbery in the second degree if he or she forcibly steals property and in the course of that taking causes physical injury to another person.
A second-degree robbery charge is a Class B felony. Although less serious than a first-degree robbery charge, both are very serious felonies with significant penalties.
Penalties for Robbery
Under Missouri law, Robbery is considered one of the most serious charges a person can face. The actual sentence a person will face will be determined from a possible range and is set by the sentencing judge. The judge will consider a great many factors when deciding the sentence, including the factual circumstances of the offense and the individual's criminal history.
- First Degree Robbery: Class A felony - punishable with a prison term that ranges from 10 to 30 years
- Second Degree Robbery: Class B felony - punishable with a prison term that ranges from 5 to 15 years
A person may also be hit with high fines in the discretion of the judge. These fines are in addition to any prison time handed down by the sentencing judge.
Defending Your Robbery Charge in Missouri
Just because you are charged with robbery, does not mean that you are guilty. The prosecutor has to prove each of the elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt in order to convict you. This is a high burden, and any doubt is required to be found in your favor at trial.
With the help of an experienced Missouri criminal defense lawyer, you can present defenses to protect your constitutional rights. These include, but are not limited to:
- Filing a Suppression Motion: When evidence is obtained by law enforcement in violation of the U.S. or Missouri Constitutions, the evidence discovered as a result can be kept out of evidence, or "suppressed." This can help a great deal in your case and may result in a lesser offense or even a dismissal of the charges against you when successful.
- No Physical Harm: If you are charged with second-degree robbery, but the alleged "victim" did not suffer any physical harm, you cannot be found guilty of that charge. You can present evidence that can dismiss this charge against you.
- No Deadly Weapon or Facsimile: If you did not use a deadly weapon, or pretend to have one, but are accused of doing so, you can present evidence to take your first-degree burglary charge down to second-degree burglary, or even lower.
- Controlled Substance: If the theft occurred in a pharmacy, but the "stuff" taken was not a controlled substance, you are not guilty of this heightened charge under first-degree robbery. You and your attorney can present evidence to avoid the more serious charge.
- Challenge Identification Procedures: Law enforcement use certain techniques to have eyewitnesses identify potential suspects. This includes live lineups or photo lineups. These techniques are subject to very strict constitutional guidelines, and when they are not followed, their use can be kept out of evidence. You can also challenge eyewitness testimony at trial.
- Present Reasonable Doubt: Throughout a particular case, there may be many areas where reasonable doubt can be introduced into the case to show the jury that they should not find you guilty. Looking for these areas where doubt can be introduced requires years of legal experience and expertise in how to present them to the jury.
Consult an Experienced Missouri Criminal Defense Attorney
When you face the prospect of robbery offense, you also face the possibility of a lot of time spent in a Missouri prison. Joshua Wilson is an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help you develop the best defense possible against robbery charges.