Robbery charges are serious, and demand a serious defense. A conviction often carries the risk of years of incarceration. Fortunately, there are numerous ways to protect your liberties and defend your rights. The Philadelphia criminal defense attorneys at Montoya Coleman Refuse to Lose.
Robbery is governed under 18 Pa.C.S. § 3701. Robbery requires that the defendant, while committing a theft, does one of the following:
- Inflicts serious bodily injury upon another. Serious bodily injury is defined as “bodily injury which creates a substantial risk of death or which causes serious, permanent disfigurement or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.” For example, where the defendant shoots someone.
- Threatens or intentionally puts someone in fear of immediate serious bodily injury. for example, where the defendant points a gun and threatens to shoot someone.
- Commits or threatens to commit any felony of the first or second degree.
- Inflicts or threatens bodily injury upon another ,or intentionally puts them in fear of bodily injury. Bodily injury is defined as an “impairment of physical condition or substantial pain.” For example, where the defendant punches someone.
- Physically takes or removes property from the person of another by force however slight. For example, when the defendant steals a purse off of someone’s shoulder.
- Takes money from a bank by making a demand of an employee.
All Robbery convictions are felonies and, depending on the section, carry maximum penalties between 7 years incarceration to 20 years incarceration.
Defending Robbery Charges - Motions
A Motion to Dismiss requests that the court dismiss criminal charges because they are insufficient at the preliminary hearing. At a preliminary hearing the government must prove that it was more likely than not that the defendant committed the crimes charged. By law, the court must view all of the evidence in a light most favorable to the government, give the government all reasonable inferences, and may not make credibility determinations. This means that even if it is apparent that a witness is lying, the court cannot dismiss charges based on that. Due to this very low standard, most criminal charges are held for court after a preliminary hearing.
If the court refuses to dismiss criminal charges at a preliminary hearing, the defendant may file a Motion to Quash requesting that a higher court dismiss the charges because they were insufficient. The higher court will review the evidence presented at the preliminary hearing to determine whether it was more likely than not that the defendant committed the crimes charged. The government may also supplement the record by presenting new evidence at the Motion to Quash hearing.
A Speedy Trial Motion requests that the court dismiss the entire case due to the government’s failure to bring the defendant to trial within a specified period of time. Generally this is 365 days from the date the criminal complaint is filed, but in Philadelphia Municipal Court it is 180 days. Excluded from this calculation of time are delays attributable to the defense and delays where the government was “duly diligent.” The crucial issue for the court to determine usually centers around whether the government was duly diligent. Often the government will not be ready for trial because a witness has failed to appear or mandatory discovery (evidence) has not been passed to the defense. The court has to analyze whether the government was duly diligent in securing the witness’s appearance for court or providing discovery.
A Motion to Suppress requests that the court suppress, or not allow, certain evidence to be introduced at trial. This evidence may be defendant’s statement, identification of the defendant, or physical evidence – such as a gun. This evidence should be suppressed if the government obtained it by violating the defendant’s constitutional rights in some manner. The Constitution requires that all people, and their property, be free from unreasonable searches and seizures, and that warrants be supported by probable cause. Some typical constitutional violations occur when the police: arrest someone because they look suspicious, stop a car that has not violated a traffic law, search a house without a warrant, obtain an identification of the defendant by unnecessarily suggestive means, or take a defendant’s statement without reading Miranda warnings (you have the right to remain silent, you have the right to an attorney…).
If the court determines that the evidence was obtained in violation of the defendant’s constitutional rights, then the evidence cannot be introduced at trial. This often helps the defense’s case at trial. For instance, if the police told the complainant that they had “caught the burglar” before obtaining his identification, then the complainant’s identification may have been tainted and should be suppressed.
Defending Robbery Charges - Trial
The lawyers at Montoya Coleman have won countless cases by arguing that the defendant was mistakenly identified as the person that committed the Robbery. Maybe the defendant looks like the real perpetrator, or was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Either way, it is important to have an experienced criminal defense attorney to analyze identifying characteristics to determine whether there was a mistaken identification. Obviously if it is determined that the defendant is not the person who committed the assault then the verdict should be a Not Guilty.
Sometimes times people will straight up lie and claim that the defendant robbed them. Their are many reasons a person could be motivated to get someone arrested. It is important to have an experience criminal defense attorney determine what their motive to lie could be, and sell this to the judge or the jury. In addition, nearly every minor detail is of great importance as every inconsistency must be highlighted in order to impeach the witnesses’ credibility. The lawyers at Montoya Coleman are not afraid to call alleged “victims” liars and expose their lies to a judge or a jury.
All types of Robbery require that the defendant is committing a theft. Therefore, if an experienced criminal defense attorney can create doubt on this issue, then they can secure a Not Guilty verdict.
Conversely, where there was no use or threat of force, then an experienced criminal defense attorney can show that there is no Robbery. The penalties of a theft conviction are mush less serious as they are mainly misdemeanors and usually call for probationary sentences.