Have you Been Charged with Robbery in Georgia?

If you or a loved one has been charged with Robbery, Lawson and Berry and their team of Georgia Lawyers can help.

In Georgia, a person commits robbery when they take property from another person or the immediate presence of another person with the intent to commit theft. O.C.G.A § 16-8-40. There are three ways as to how Robbery can occur, through:

  • Use of force;
  • Intimidation, threat, or placing the other person in fear of immediate serious bodily injury to himself or another; or
  • By sudden snatching 

Robbery differs from burglary in that burglary is recognized as a crime against a residence, meaning that there was intent to commit a felony in a structure. Robbery is a crime against a person where the safety and security of an individual is threatened as well as their protection of property rights.

The Taking of the Property

There are three different ways in which robbery can be conducted. First, robbery by force. If there is any injury done to the person or if there is a struggle to take the property, then force has been used. Rivers v. State, 46 Ga. App. 778, (1933). However, the force used to commit the robbery must be used at the same time with obtaining possession of the property. Dutton v. State, 199 Ga. App. 750, (1991). In the Dutton case, the defendant used force when he stole some beer from a convenience store. The defendant argued that he took the beer from the cooler and only used force when he pushed the cashier aside to aid in his escape, and therefore, was not guilty of robbery. However, the Court found that the defendant had not stolen the beer until he used force to push the cashier and escape.

Second, robbery can be done through intimidation, threats, or placing the person in fear of immediate serious injury to himself or another. Robbery by intimidation is a lesser included offense in the crime of armed robbery. Please see the Armed Robbery section for more information.

Third, sudden snatching is another way robbery can be done. Robbery by sudden snatching occurs where any other force is used than is necessary for the thief to obtain possession of the property from the owner who is off guard and where there is no resistance by owner or injury to the owner. Edwards v. State, 224 Ga. 684, (1968). A defendant was convicted of robbery by snatching when he intentionally confused the cashier at a restaurant so that he could grab money from the cashier's hand and run. Burns v. State, 245 Ga. App. 332, (2000).

Another case of robbery by snatching is Lawson v. State. 224 Ga. App. 645, (1997). There, the defendant rear-ended the victim and while exchanging insurance information, the defendant reached into the victim's car and took her purse. The defendant attempted to argue the elements of robbery were not satisfied because no force was used and that the robbery was not in the immediate presence of the victim. However, the Court ruled that force is implicit in sudden snatching and that the victim, who had been standing by the car when the defendant took her purse was conscious of the taking. Therefore, the Court found the defendant guilty of robbery by sudden snatching.

Case Law

Kathleen Tilley was walking home to work one day when a van pulled alongside her and someone reached out of the window and grabbed her purse. She fell to her knees and was dragged along by the vehicle until she eventually let go of the purse. The purse contained her license, wallet, umbrella, checkbook, insurance card, and a $100 bill. Police officers were able to chase down the van and during the chase, the purse was thrown out of the van window along with Tilley's driver's license, umbrella, and her checkbook. Once the van stopped, Tilley identified the van like the one that stole her purse. The court found the driver and passenger of the van guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The defendant's tried to argue that they found the purse and that the original robbers must have dropped it, but they did not present any evidence in support of their argument. Therefore, the jury found the defendants guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, and they were convicted of robbery. Burks v. State, 239 Ga. App. 427, (1999).

A different look at robbery occurred in the case of Forehand v. Hand. 270 Ga. App. 365 (2004). In this case, Forehand was a prisoner at Marion County Jail. He asked one of the guards if he could retrieve some books from outside his cell. The jailor consented and once Forehand walked out of his cell, he elbowed the jailed in the stomach and shoved him in the jail cell. Forehand then told the jailor that he had killed two people, and the jailor would be the third if he did not let him escape. Forehand used the jailor's keys to try and unlock the main gate but was discovered by the deputy on duty. Forehand retreated to his cell, let the jailor out, and returned his keys to him. During the trial, Forehand argued that he was not guilty of robbery because there was only a temporary transfer of control over the keys. Also, he tried to claim that the jailor had agreed to release Forehand from his cell and to pretend to be locked in. The jury did not believe that the jailor had agreed to pretend to be locked in. The Court found that even a temporary transfer of control or a slight change in location is enough to prove intent to rob, and therefore, Forehand was convicted of robbery.

What Has to Be Proven for a Conviction

To be convicted of Robbery, the District Attorney must prove that you committed the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Our Georgia Robbery Attorneys will try to help you avoid a conviction by attacking the evidence the prosecution seeks to admit against you. They can do this through several ways including offering additional evidence or witness testimonies that undermine the prosecution's case. These are strategies create doubt and help you avoid a robbery conviction. Your Lawyer does not have to convince a jury that you are innocent, they just have to cast reasonable doubt on the prosecution's arguments so they cannot find you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Sentencing for Robbery in Georgia

Robbery is a felony offense, which means it carries stricter penalties than some other crimes. If you have been charged with Robbery, some of the penalties may include a prison term, a fine of at least $1,000 or probation. Robbery carries some serious consequences and it is important to have an Attorney that that is knowledgeable about the penalties to help better represent you.

In Georgia, a Robbery conviction comes with a prison sentence for a period of one to twenty years. However the consequences for robbing a person aged 65 or older increases the prison term to no less than five years and no more than twenty.

If you receive a conviction for robbery a second time, you could face a lifetime prison sentence.

There is a possibility that you could receive probation or a combination of jail or probation based on your unique situation. There are several things a judge may take into consideration when determining if you would be a good candidate for probation including your criminal history, history of drug abuse, employment, ties to the community, the crime, and other circumstances the judge deems important. If you have an extensive rap sheet, a judge may consider you likely to re-offend and may consider you a poor choice for probation. If you have strong ties to the community and are consistently employed, the judge may see that you are stable and could complete probation.

It is vital to your case to have one of our Georgia Robbery Lawyers to help you understand your options.

Defenses to Robbery

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 specific 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).

Lack of Intent: To be convicted of Robbery, the prosecution must prove that you had the intent to commit theft. Our Georgia Robbery Attorneys will argue that you lacked the intent to commit a crime. An example of this is if you took a CD thinking that it was yours.

If the person wasn't aware of being robbed: Courts have found that when the defendant committed a snatching of an object and the person was unaware of the snatching, and no other force was used than necessary to obtain possession of the property, then robbery is not committed but instead sudden snatching or larceny. These are lesser offenses of robbery, which means that they carry less severe penalties. Essentially if the person you took something from was unaware that you stole something, then you are not guilty of robbery. However if they realize what you are doing, even when you are running away, then it is robbery. They have to understand that their property is being taken away before the taking is complete. King v. State, 214 Ga. App. 311 (1994). Your Robbery Attorney in Georgia can help make these subtle distinctions, and that is one of the reasons why it is vital to your case to call one of our Lawyers today.

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.

Intoxication: Intoxication can sometimes excuse criminal behavior committed during the time of intoxication. Robbery requires a specific intent to steal property, but intoxication can render you incapable of forming the specific intent needed to commit the crime.

If it was involuntary intoxication, you are usually excused from criminal behavior during that time. To prove that the intoxication was involuntary, your Attorney would have to show that either the intoxication occurred against your will or without your knowledge.

If you voluntarily got intoxicated, the question is whether you could form the necessary intent to commit robbery. Not all states allow a voluntary intoxication defense. In Georgia, voluntary intoxication is not a complete defense to the crime of robbery. However, your Robbery Attorney could use it to obtain a lesser sentence.

Duress: If someone forced you into committing a robbery by threatening you with immediate harm or death, you could use the defense of duress. It is a difficult argument to prove but if supported by evidence could help obtain an acquittal.

What are not Defenses 

I stole from a husband and wife so that should only be one count of Robbery: When the victims of the robbery are a husband and wife or the property is jointly owned by two people, the defendant will be charged with two counts of robbery. Robbery is a crime against possession and is not affected by concepts of ownership. Because the item belonged to two people, the defendant will receive two counts of robbery. Carter v. State, 156 Ga. App. 633, (1980).

I don't know who I stole from: Not knowing to whom the property belonged to does not negate a robbery charge. The identity of the person stolen from does not have to be proven. Rollins v. State, 154 Ga. App. 585 (1980)

I didn't directly take it from the person: Even if you didn't take something out of the person's hand or off their person, you could still be found guilty of robbery. It is still sufficient if you took something that was in the person's possession and immediate presence. Fincher v. State, 211 Ga. 89 (1954). An example would be if a person had set down their shopping bag and you grabbed it. It does not necessarily have to be snatched out of their hand. The Court will still find robbery if you snatched it out of their immediate possession.

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.

I already have a conviction for burglary for this offense, so a conviction of robbery violates double jeopardy: The Court has found that no double jeopardy violation occurs when a person is convicted and sentenced for both burglary and robbery for the same offense. Luke v. State, 171 Ga. App. 201 (1984).   The Court ruled that burglary and robbery are two different offenses, and since the same proof did not establish them, it was proper for the defendant to be convicted of both crimes for the same offense.

Contact Us

Contact our offices today to schedule a free consultation with one of our Georgia Robbery Lawyers. Our Attorneys are highly knowledgeable and 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 Attorney 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 Lawyers. Your future is at stake so don't sit around waiting for your case to resolve itself.

Contact Us Today for Immediate Help

The time is now to start preparing your defense! Many times people lose the opportunity to put on their best defense because they wait. The importance of hiring a lawyer from the very beginning cannot be overstated! Waiting allows for witnesses to leave the area, evidence to be lost, and memories to fade. All of these have a direct effect on the successful on your case. The time to begin your case and start prepping your defense is now! Contact us today to put on your best Georgia criminal defense!