Have you Been Charged with Armed Robbery in Georgia?
If you or a loved one has been charged with Armed Robbery in Georgia, Lawson and Berry can help. Our Armed Robbery Lawyers in Georgia have over 50 years of criminal defense experience.
While robbery is primarily taking the property of another from that person; armed robbery means that you used a weapon during the taking. Armed Robbery is considered a serious violent felony in Georgia. The offense of robbery by intimidation is a lesser-included offense of the crime of armed robbery.
Georgia Law on Armed Robbery
Georgia Code §16-8-41 states that a person commits the offense of armed robbery when, with intent to commit theft, he or she takes property of another from the person or the immediate presence of another by use of an offensive weapon, or any replica, article, or device have the appearance of such weapon.
Also, there is a new type of Armed Robbery in Georgia that has arisen over the years, Armed Robbery of a Pharmacy. This category carries stiff penalties and requires a different strategy. Our Georgia Robbery Attorneys are familiar with the new laws and are prepared to assist you with your case.
What Constitutes an Offensive Weapon
Courts have gone back and forth through the years as to what constitutes an offensive weapon as well as if replica or toys can be considered offensive weapons. After years of debating, it has been established that an offensive weapon includes not only weapons which are offensive per se, but also embraces other instrumentalities not normally considered to be offensive in and of themselves but which may be found by a jury likely to produce death or great bodily injury depending on the manner and means of their use. Eady v. State, 182 Ga. App. 293 (1987).
Weapons that have been found to be offensive per se include a machete, sword, knife, and gun. These have been categorized as offensive per se because they do not have innocent qualities to them. Weapons that have honest qualities to them are things like ordinary razors, or penknives because they have an innocent purpose. The Court decided that hands and feet do not constitute weapons under the armed robbery statute. Wright v. State, 228 Ga. App. 779 (1997).
The test for other unconventional weapons is whether the manner in which it was used constituted an offensive weapon. Whether an instrument represents a deadly or offensive weapon is one for the jury's determination. Over the years, a starter pistol, nun chucks, tire tool, screwdriver, pellet gun, and skillet are just some of the things the jury found to be an offensive and/or a deadly weapon.
In 2006, the Court found a defendant guilty of armed robbery where he threatened the victim with a knife and took money from him. The defendant threatened the man with a knife and then threw the knife on the bed. While the defendant admitted holding a knife in his hand, he argued that since he never harmed the victim, he was not guilty of robbery. The Court found that the defendant's threats and demands were sufficient to establish the element of intimidation and that he did not have to actually harm the victim to be guilty. By testifying to the threats and holding a knife over him, the victim satisfied the requirements, and the defendant was convicted. Magana-Gonzalez v. State, 277 Ga. App. 195.
In 2008, the Court of Appeals affirmed the conviction of armed robbery of the defendant. The Defendant, Jerome LeMon, went to a party with some friends. While at the party, he held a video camera in the face of girls and would ask them inappropriate questions. The host made LeMon leave, and he got into a car with two other men. While in the car, LeMon became infuriated and started yelling at the two other men. LeMon ordered them to turn over their cell phones, and when they refused, LeMon told them that he had a knife in his pocket, and he was going to stab him in the heart if he didn't give up his phone. The man gave LeMon the phone, and he threw them on the floor of the car. The Court found him guilty of armed robbery because he threatened the two men with his knife to get them to turn over their cell phones. Lemon v. State, 290 Ga. App. 527 (2008).
Penalty for Armed Robbery in Georgia
Armed robbery is is a felony conviction in Georgia. The penalties for Armed Robbery in Georgia are very stiff. A conviction of Armed Robbery carries a potential sentence of ten to twenty years in prison with the very minimum being ten years in prison with no early release. Prison terms for life are another common penalty for Armed Robbery.
The most severe penalty in Georgia for Armed Robbery is the death penalty.
There are even stricter penalties for Armed Robbery of a Pharmacy. If you rob a pharmacy and steal prescription drugs and also inflict serious bodily injury upon someone during the crime, you will face a prison sentence of no less than fifteen years. You must do at least ten years in prison with no early release program available to you.
If you have a serious violent felony conviction anywhere in the United States, and then you are convicted or another serious felony in Georgia that does not require the death penalty, you will be sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Defenses in Georgia
I didn't take anything; I just wanted to scare them: If you did not take anything from the victim but instead just used a weapon to scare someone, then you will not guilty of robbery. However, you could still be guilty of assault or battery.
Lack of Intent: Armed robbery requires that the accused take the property with intent to commit theft. If you thought the property was yours or it was a misunderstanding, your actions may not satisfy the requirements of armed robbery.
Self Defense: Another argument your Georgia Robbery Attorney could make is that you acted in self-defense. While you may have been attempting to take something, you only used a weapon when you began feeling threatened.
Innocence: If you have an alibi or witness testimony that you did not commit the crime, then your Attorney will have a chance of succeeding on an innocence claim.
The taking by force or intimidation was justified: To justify taking property by force of intimidation, the party taking must be the owner of the particular property taken or must be entitled to the possession of the property or lastly, believed in good faith that they were the owner of the property or entitled to the property. Moyers v. State, 186 Ga. 446, (1938).
No weapon was used nor the appearance of a weapon: For the crime of robbery to have been committed, there must be evidence that a weapon or violence or the appearance of a weapon was used during the incident. Any evidence supporting that this was not true would be greatly beneficial. Even if you are still guilty of robbery, it is a lesser sentence than armed robbery.
What Does Not Constitute a Defense
I didn't have a real weapon, just a toy: Even if you used a toy gun, you could be guilty of armed robbery. The Court looks at whether it was a believable replica and if it was, you will still be charged with armed robbery.
I had consent at the beginning to have the property: Recent case law has found that even if you had permission to have custody of the property at the beginning, you could still be guilty of robbery if you forcefully dissuaded the owner from making you return the object. Cantrell v. State, 184 Ga. App. 384, (1987). An example of this is if you had permission to borrow a necklace and then when they asked you to return it, you forced them through violence to let you keep it. Even though you had consent at the beginning, it is still robbery because you used force to retain the property.
The victim never saw a weapon: Even if the victim never sees a weapon, a defendant can still be guilty of armed robbery. Since the purpose of using any weapon or device is to create a reasonable apprehension that an offensive weapon is being used, it is immaterial whether the fear is created by seeing or by any other sense, provided the apprehension is reasonable under the circumstances. Moody v. State, 258 Ga. 818, (1989). An example is when a defendant told the victim “do as I say or I'll blow your head off.” Although the victim never saw the weapon, the statement was enough that the robbery had been accomplished by use of an offensive weapon. Nicholson v. State, 200 Ga. App. 412 (1991)
To schedule a free consultation with Lawson and Berry or one of our Georgia Armed Robbery Lawyers, contact our office today. We will assist you in formulating the best possible defense for your case. We will walk you through every step of the process, and we are dedicated to being accessible to you- days, nights, weekends, and holidays while working hard on your behalf. Your Armed Robbery Lawyer in Georgia will make sure you understand all of your options and advise you on the best approach to take for your case based on their many years of experience. Don't wait to contact one of our Georgia Armed Robbery Attorneys. Your future is at stake so don't sit around waiting for your case to resolve itself.