Accused of a Robbery Crime in Fort Worth?
Have you, a friend or a loved one been arrested and charged with robbery?
If you have been charged with robbery, you must act immediately and contact an aggressive criminal attorney that is experienced in handling robbery cases.
Robbery is a serious crime that places you in danger of receiving a minimum of 2 years to a maximum of 99 years in prison, depending upon whether you are charged and convicted of robbery or aggravated robbery.
In addition to hiring an experienced and aggressive criminal defense attorney to protect your freedom, it is critical to understand Texas robbery laws and be prepared for how to mount a defense against the State of Texas. Any analysis of robbery in Texas must start with an analysis of the Texas Penal Code definition of what the State of Texas must prove beyond a reasonable doubt.
What Is Considered Robbery In Texas?
Under Texas Penal Code, Section 29.02, a robbery has taken place when:
a person has committed theft against another and, in the process of committing theft, intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes bodily injury to the victim or intentionally or knowingly threatens or places the victim in fear of imminent bodily injury or death.
When the definition of robbery speaks about “committing theft,” the exact language says, “in the course of committing theft and with intent to obtain or maintain control of the property.” What does this mean? Under the definitions section of Texas Penal Code, Section 29.01, “in the course of committing theft” means conduct that occurs in an attempt to commit, during the commission, or in immediate flight after the attempt or commission.
What Are The Consequences Of Robbery?
Robbery is categorized as a second-degree felony that provides for a punishment range of 2 to 20 years in prison and a fine not to exceed $10,000.
What Is The Difference Between Robbery And Aggravated Robbery In The Texas Penal Code?
Under Texas law, an aggravated robbery has taken place when a person has committed theft against another and, in the process, causes serious bodily injury to the victim; displays a deadly weapon; or the robbery is committed against a disabled person or a person 65 years of age or older.
The primary distinction between a robbery and an aggravated robbery is the use of a deadly weapon or if the robbery caused serious bodily injury. In both a robbery and an aggravated robbery, the State of Texas must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a theft was committed or in the process of being committed AND the prosecutor must prove that some form of assault occurred during the commission of the theft. If the injury results in a serious bodily injury, the prosecutor will allege an aggravated robbery. If a deadly weapon was used in the commission of the robbery, the State of Texas will file an aggravated robbery charge.
Aggravated robbery is categorized as a first-degree felony that provides for a punishment range of 5 to 99 years in prison and a fine not to exceed $10,000.
An aggravated robbery charge is one of the most serious crimes you can be charged with in Texas. Considering that your freedom and future could be in jeopardy, it is important that you hire an aggressive and skilled criminal lawyer to assist you in avoiding a conviction that could result in significant prison time and large fines.
Defenses To Robbery In Texas
Lack Of Criminal Intent
If your robbery case were to proceed to a jury trial, the State of Texas would be required to prove criminal intent beyond a reasonable doubt. In other words, the jury would have to believe beyond a reasonable doubt that you intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly cause a bodily injury to another.
We all know what it means to do something intentionally or knowingly, but what does it mean to act recklessly? Under Texas criminal law, a person acts recklessly with respect to committing a crime when he is aware but consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the circumstances exist, or the result will occur. In other words, robbery charges are not permitted to be filed for injuries that were accidentally or mistakenly sustained. How does this apply to proving criminal intent with a robbery charge? Let us look at an example:
For example: we represented a client who had entered a local Wal-Mart and had been grabbing items and placing them in their shopping cart. As they walked around, they chose to hide some of the grocery items in their coat and started walking toward the exit doors. After passing all points of sale, it was clear that our client was attempting to commit the misdemeanor crime of theft or shoplifting. However, as the loss prevention officers at Wal-Mart noticed she was leaving, they began to chase her. This caused her to start running as fast as she could to escape. In the process of running, one of the loss prevention officers caught up to her and tackled her to the ground. During the process of tackling our client to the ground, the loss prevention officer skinned up his knees and scraped his head pretty badly on a shopping cart. The loss prevention officer was enraged by his injuries so when the police arrived, he demanded that she be charged with robbery because he was injured during the commission of the theft.
Is this fair? Has our client committed the crime of robbery under Texas law? There is a persuasive argument that this example does NOT constitute robbery. Why? Because it is clear from the facts, that our client was attempting to flee the scene and had no criminal intent to injure or cause injury to the loss prevention officer. It would have been different if she had approached him and grabbed items out of his hands and hit him in the head. However, in this situation, the only reason the loss prevention officer was injured was because he tackled her to the ground and in the process was injured.
How did the case get resolved? The Hampton Law Firm was able to prepare a packet of evidence showing the true circumstances behind what happened and convince the grand jury to lower the charge from a second-degree robbery to a lesser misdemeanor charge of shoplifting, a Class B misdemeanor. After being filed as a class B misdemeanor, we were able to qualify the client for a diversion program in Tarrant County, which qualified her for a dismissal of her criminal charges and provide her eligibility to have the robbery arrest expunged from her criminal record.
Another example of criminal intent being required to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt by the State of Texas is regarding the element of theft. In order to sustain a robbery conviction, the prosecutor must prove both criminal intent to commit assault but also criminal intent to commit theft. What if an assault did, in fact, take place but there is no evidence that you intended to commit theft?
Under Texas criminal law, the crime of theft requires proof that you unlawfully appropriated (without the owner’s consent) someone’s property WITH THE INTENT to permanently deprive the owner of the property. As you can see, criminal intent must be proven that you intentionally or knowingly appropriated the alleged victim’s property with the intent to permanently deprive them of the property. If your criminal defense attorney can show that you lacked the criminal intent to commit theft at the time of the assault, your case may be a viable candidate to be lowered to a lesser charge?
How does a robbery get lowered to a lesser misdemeanor charge? In the example listed above, we were able to get the felony robbery charge lowered to a lesser misdemeanor charge by making a grand jury presentation. A grand jury is a panel of citizens that are tasked with the responsibility of listening to evidence and deciding if there is probable cause to substantiate a case.
If your criminal defense attorney fails to make a presentation to the grand jury, the grand jury will only hear one side of the story and side with the prosecutor by approving the case as a felony. However, by preparing a packet of evidence showing favorable evidence for your case, you increase the probability that you will have your case lowered to a misdemeanor charge or rejected by a no bill.
No Bodily Injury
If your robbery case were to proceed to a jury trial, the State of Texas would be required to prove that the alleged victim sustained an injury, and this element would need to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
How is bodily injury proven? Legally, the State of Texas must prove that the alleged victim was contacted in such a manner that caused “physical pain.” Technically, bodily injury can be proven by the word of the alleged victim by itself. However, let us be real about the situation – if there are no visible injuries (bruising, scratches, etc.), the prosecutor will have a challenging time proving that a bodily injury occurred. The best Fort Worth robbery lawyers know that a lack of visible injuries provides leverage in negotiating a robbery charge to a lesser misdemeanor offense or a dismissal of charges.
No Fear Of Bodily Injury Or Death
What if there is no physical injury during the altercation but the alleged victim is claiming that they were in fear of bodily injury or death? This becomes a more subjective inquiry because there was no actual harm.
Under Texas robbery law, the State of Texas must prove that in the process of committing theft, the actions of the accused intentionally or knowingly threatens or places the victim in fear of imminent bodily injury or death. As you can see, this is very abstract and difficult to determine.
For one person, they may easily be in fear of imminent bodily injury or death. For another person, they were never afraid of anything the accused said or did. The prosecutor will be required to determine if a reasonable person would be place in fear of imminent bodily injury or death.
For example: we represented a client who was charged with robbery because he approached his girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend and demanded he give him his cell phone because he knew there was nude pics of his girlfriend on the phone. The alleged victim claimed that the client looked at him in an “intimidating fashion” and placed him in fear of bodily injury. Amazingly, the detective believed him. We were able to show that a reasonable person in the same situation would not have been in fear of bodily injury. As such, there was no robbery.
Theft Can Not Be Proven
Did a theft actually occur during the alleged robbery? In other words, was property taken with the intent to permanently deprive the owner? If an assault was committed but property was not appropriated or taken, the prosecutor will not be able to prove the elements of a robbery.
It is critical that your criminal defense lawyer thoroughly review the evidence and determine if there is reasonable doubt regarding the element of theft. If so, your robbery charge may be eligible to be reduced to a lesser charge of a class A misdemeanor assault. Do not just assume the prosecutor’s version of the events is accurate.
State Of Texas Can Not Meet Their Burden Of Proof In Trial
If the evidence against you for the charge of robbery is weak, you should consider taking the case to trial. Every criminal trial in Texas requires the State of Texas to prove the elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. You are not expected nor required to prove anything. Failure by the prosecutor to prove each and every element beyond a reasonable doubt will require a jury to find you NOT GUILTY! A verdict of not guilty makes you immediately eligible for an expunction of the arrest and case records.
If you are facing a charge of Robbery in Fort Worth, Dallas or a surrounding city in Tarrant County or Dallas County, Texas, do not hesitate to contact The Hampton Law Firm for a free case analysis. At The Hampton Law Firm, you will collaborate with a team of Former Prosecutors with over 85 years of criminal law experience and over 550 criminal jury trials in the courts of Tarrant County, Texas.