Robbery charges in Texas are anything but minor. Convicted offenders may face up to 20 years behind bars and fines reaching $10,000 – and that’s just for the state’s less severe robbery charges.
If you have been charged with robbery and have to defend yourself in court, you may be feeling the pressure. What course of action can you take to ensure that you walk out of the courtroom without a felony on your record or prison time in your future?
That’s what we aim to show you in this post. There are many ways to fight Texas robbery charges – the trick is in knowing which defense strategies are best suited to your specific situation. Read the below for an overview, then reach out to a skilled Texas criminal defense lawyer to learn more.
Let’s Go Over the Definition of Robbery in Texas
Before delving into defense strategies, it’s important to know what you are accused of in the first place. The more you know about the law, the more information you can use to fight your charges.
Robbery is essentially an aggravated theft charge. Texas law defines robbery as the act of committing theft (or attempting to commit theft), and in the process:
- Causing bodily harm to another person
- Placing another person in fear of imminent bodily injury or death
This charge is a second degree felony; penalties include 2-20 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines. However, this isn’t the only robbery charge in the state of Texas.
There’s also aggravated robbery, which is more commonly known as “armed robbery.” It is a charge that includes the typical elements of a robbery charge, plus:
- The victim is 65 or older
- The victim is a disabled person
- The perpetrator caused serious bodily injury to another person
- The perpetrator used or presented a deadly weapon
In Texas, aggravated robbery is a first degree felony; penalties include 5-99 years in prison and fines of up to $10,000.
Both of these charges are obviously quite serious, so let’s review some possible defense strategies.
Defense Strategies for Texas Robbery Charges
If you are charged with aggravated robbery, one of your strategies could include an attempt to reduce your charges to robbery or theft charges. Remember the elements that distinguish robbery from aggravated robbery. If you did not use or exhibit a deadly weapon while the crime was being committed, for example, you could focus on that element of the case. The difference between 20 and up to 99 years in prison is a big leap.
Did Not Cause Bodily Harm
In a similar strategy, you can try and attempt to have your robbery charges reduced to a lesser charge by arguing that you caused no bodily harm. The main element that separates theft from robbery charges is bodily harm or the threat of bodily harm. The prosecution will have to prove that you caused bodily harm through medical records and other evidence, but you can argue against this.
Did Not Intentionally Threaten the Victim
Texas law says it’s still robbery even if you only recklessly cause bodily harm. However, there ar some gray areas here. If you can prove that your actions did not directly cause harm, you may be able to reduce your charges. Likewise, if you did not knowingly or intentionally place another person in fear of bodily harm, you may be able to reduce your charges.
Did Not Commit Theft
A robbery charge is built on the foundation that the alleged offender was “attempting to commit” theft or caused harm “after the attempt or commission of theft.” If the property in question belonged to you – or if there was just no intent to steal anything – you did not commit theft. This is another way to potentially reduce your charges.
Telling a judge that you got drunk and committed a robbery is not going to get you off the hook. That being said, in cases where the defendant was involuntarily intoxicated (for example, they drank from a punch bowl at a party without knowing there was alcohol in it), they may be able to use that as a defense. It is a rare case, but it can be helpful in very specific situations.
Lack of Proof
In any criminal case, you are innocent until proven guilty. If you can successfully call the evidence against you in question or find ways to have it stricken from the record, the prosecution will not be able to convict you.
A robbery is usually a one-time event. Where and when does the prosecution argue that the robbery occurred? If you can provide an alibi for the time and place of the incident, the prosecution will not have much of a convincing story to convict you.
Not all of these defense strategies will apply to your case. That is why it is so important to consult with your lawyer before deciding which ones are the most likely to benefit your case.
About the Author:
After getting his Juris Doctor from the University of Houston Law Center, Jeff Hampton began practicing criminal law in Texas in 2005. Before becoming a defense attorney, he worked as a prosecutor for the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office – experience he uses to anticipate and cast doubt on the arguments that will be used against his clients. Over the course of his career, he has helped countless Texans protect their rights and get the best possible outcome in their criminal cases. His skill has earned him recognition from the National Trial Lawyers (Top 100 Trial Lawyers) and Avvo (Top Attorney in Criminal Defense, Top Attorney in DUI & DWI, 10/10 Superb Rating), and he is Lead Counsel rated.