Many people consider any act of theft to be a robbery, proclaiming to have been “robbed” whenever they discover that a personal belonging is missing. However, whereas many theft crimes are considered to be crimes against property, robbery is a specific type of theft that is considered a crime against persons.
Whereas secrecy and stealth are the hallmarks of many types of theft—shoplifting, pickpocketing, embezzling, and even burglary, for example—robbery is confrontational, perpetrated through force or fear. Oklahoma law defines robbery as the “wrongful taking of personal property in the possession of another, from his person or immediate presence, and against his will, accomplished by means of force or fear." Because it is a crime which puts a person in fear of serious bodily injury, it is prosecuted as a violent crime, and first degree robbery is sentenced as an 85 percent crime, preventing anyone convicted from becoming eligible for parole until he or she has completed a minimum of 85 percent of the sentence.
There are several ways in which a robbery may be charged, but each is a felony that carries significant prison time upon conviction. Effective defense representation is critical for obtaining a favorable outcome to your case. If you are suspected or accused of involvement in a robbery, do not say anything to police other than to ask for an attorney. Protect your right to remain silent, and let Law Firm of Oklahoma be your voice.
Robbery in the first degree is defined in 21 O.S. 797 as a theft in which the defendant:
A conviction of first degree robbery brings significant prison time—10 years to life, even on the first offense. Because first degree robbery is one of Oklahoma’s 85 Percent Crimes, the minimum term one would serve before becoming eligible for parole is eight and a half years.
While state law defines four specific circumstances under which a robbery is considered to be robbery in the first degree, it merely states that robbery “accomplished in any other manner” than the four specified acts of first degree robbery is considered robbery in the second degree. Although second degree robbery is the lesser offense, the penalties are nonetheless severe. Second degree robbery carries a potential prison sentence of up to 10 years.
When a robbery is committed with two or more accomplices, the penalties may be enhanced. According to 21 O.S. 800, “Whenever two or more persons conjointly commit a robbery or where the whole number of persons conjointly commits a robbery and persons present and aiding such robbery amount to two or more, each and either of such persons shall be guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment in the State Penitentiary for not less than five (5) years nor more than fifty (50) years.”
Fear is a crucial element of robbery, and anyone who attempts or commits robbery through use of a dangerous weapon or firearm faces the possibility of life in prison. What many people do not realize is that this penalty exists whether or not the gun is loaded, and whether or not the gun is even real. Robbery or Attempted Robbery with Dangerous Weapon or Imitation Firearm is described in 21 O.S. 801:
“Any person or persons who, with the use of any firearms or any other dangerous weapons, whether the firearm is loaded or not, or who uses a blank or imitation firearm capable of raising in the mind of the one threatened with such device a fear that it is a real firearm, attempts to rob or robs any person or persons, or who robs or attempts to rob any place of business, residence or banking institution or any other place inhabited or attended by any person or persons at any time, either day or night, shall be guilty of a felony and, upon conviction therefore, shall suffer punishment by imprisonment for life in the State Penitentiary, or for a period of time not less than five (5) years, at the discretion of the court, or the jury trying the same.”
Whether or not the robber is capable of shooting the victim or victims, the element of fear is enough to bring a felony charge.
Oklahoma law explicitly defines what robbery is and is not. A defense lawyer may be successful in obtaining a reduction or dismissal of robbery charges by exposing details that statutorily exclude robbery as a valid charge.
Robbery is the taking of property from a person, with his or her knowledge, through force or fear. However, that force must be used to take the property or to overcome resistance to the theft in order for the crime to be considered robbery. Section 792 of the Oklahoma criminal code states, “To constitute robbery, the force or fear must be employed either to obtain or retain possession of the property, or to prevent or overcome resistance to the taking. If employed merely as a means of escape, it does not constitute robbery.”
Furthermore, Section 796 states that if a theft is committed from a person without his or her knowledge, the crime was not robbery.
In prosecuting a robbery case, the state of Oklahoma has the burden of proof of a number of factors, including the use of force or fear to obtain the property and the knowledge of the victim. In the absence of these elements or evidence of their existence, a criminal lawyer can build a strong defense.
At Law Firm of Oklahoma, we closely examine all aspects of the case to unveil the optimal defense strategies. To find out how we can craft a winning defense tailored to your unique case, call today to schedule a free consultation.