Robbery Charges

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Robbery Charges

Robbery Charges in Houston

What Constitutes Robbery In Houston, Texas?

Legal Definition

According to the Texas Penal Code Title 7, Chapter 29, robbery is defined as a criminal act where the perpetrator is currently committing theft as defined in Texas Penal Code Title 7 Chapter 31, with intent to possess or maintain control of the property, and:

  • “Intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes bodily injury to another; or
  • Intentionally or knowingly threatens or places another in fear of imminent bodily injury or death.”

Under Chapter 29, Section 3, a more serious form of robbery, aggravated robbery, is defined. This form of robbery requires all the elements in Section 2 of Chapter 29, outlined above, and that the offender commit the following:

  • “Causes serious bodily injury to another;
  • Uses or exhibits a deadly weapon; or
  • Causes bodily injury to another person or threatens or places another person in fear of imminent bodily injury or death, if the other person is:
    • 65 years of age or older; or
    • A disabled person.”

Robbery is a second degree felony, while aggravated robbery is a first degree felony. Under aggravated robbery, “disabled person” is defined as any person with a mental, physical, or developmental disability who is unable to protect themselves from harm.

The penalties for robbery typically include time spent in a state prison. For second degree robbery, sentencing can be anywhere from two to twenty years and a maximum fine of $10,000. For first degree robbery, also known as aggravated robbery, the offender could face a range of five to ninety-nine years in state prison and a maximum fine of $10,000.

What’s The Difference Between Robbery And Burglary?

It is very common for robbery and burglary to be mistaken for each other. Burglary and robbery do have similar sentencing; however, one form of a burglary class allows for a lesser sentence.

Both robbery and burglary involve taking of another person’s property, but how the taking is done is very different for each of the two crimes.

Your criminal defense attorney will explain that robbery requires the taking of property through injury or threat of injury, while burglary requires an offender to take an item while entering a structure or dwelling with intent to commit a crime inside the structure. If the prosecution can show an offender entered a building and intended to commit theft, then it doesn’t matter whether the property was taken or not, the intent is enough for the crime of burglary.

Robbery Charges In Houston

Robbery is considered a violent crime in Texas; however, the statute makes it clear that injury need not take place. If the offender attempts to deprive a person of their property such that the person felt fear or imminent danger, then the elements are met. A common example is when an offender attempts to take an individual’s property while holding a type of weapon or something that could be used as a weapon.

Burglary requires entering a building or dwelling without any interaction with a victim, while robbery must involve some sort of interaction with a victim that includes injury or threats. An experienced criminal defense attorney can identify the elements of the crime you have been charged with in order to create a successful defense.

Robbery Elements That The Prosecution Must Prove

Defining a crime is much different than proving a crime was committed.

To start, the prosecution must prove the offender’s intent to commit the crime and that the criminal act actually happened according to corresponding elements. Jury instructions provided to the jury in the case of Texas v. Rayo, define intent, also referred to as “mental state” as: “his conscious objective or desire to cause the result.” The instructions go further and define when a person “knowingly” commits an act “when he is aware that his conduct is reasonably certain to cause the result.”

Both states of mind require either knowing what is in a defendant’s mind or evidence such as preparation for the crime, purchasing tools for the crime, telling another person about the crime, or a confession. Intent can be a difficult to prove for the prosecution, especially when only alleged threats without injury exist or there is no indication of preparation.

The definition of robbery that was given to the above-mentioned jury were as follows:

“A person commits the offense of robbery if, in the course of committing theft,…and with intent to obtain and maintain control of property of another, he intentionally or knowingly threatens, or places another in fear of, imminent bodily injury or death.”

This definition does not stop there; the jury instructions continue and define almost every word in the above robbery definition. The following words in the robbery definition were given additional definitions:

  • “In the course of committing the theft”
  • Theft
  • Intent
  • Knowingly
  • Appropriation (from the theft definition)
  • Property
  • Deprive (from the theft definition)
  • Effective consent (from the theft definition)
  • Owner (from the theft definition)
  • Possession (from the theft definition)
  • Bodily Injury

All these elements must be met for the defendant to be found guilty of robbery. If the way theft is defined is not what a jury believes actually happened, then an element of the crime of robbery is not present. If this element is not present, then the charge of robbery cannot stand.

Your criminal defense attorney is an expert at defending charges such as robbery. Some of those defenses include lack of intent, lack of knowledge, lack of bodily injury sustained, and lack of fear, on the part of the victim, of bodily injury or death.

All these defenses show that if one element of the crime is missing, a legitimate and successful defense can be used. Criminal defense attorneys have a lot of effective options when it comes to defending their clients charged with robbery.

Robbery Charges In Houston

What Type Of Penalties Do I Face If Convicted?

The following includes penalties if a defendant is convicted of robbery and/or aggravated robbery:

  • Robbery
    • Two to twenty years in a state prison
    • Fine of up to $10,000
  • Aggravated Robbery
    • If it is the first offense: five to ninety-nine years in state prison
    • If there was a jury trial, the jury can instead choose to give the defendant probation instead of prison time (if you waived your right to a jury, a judge is not allowed to assign probation under Texas law)

Because Texas does not have formal sentencing guidelines like the federal system, judges and juries have wide discretion when sentencing. The following is considered when choosing the length of a sentence:

  • Good Character and Acts (This includes caring for an elderly family member, having a job, and community service)
  • Bad Character and Acts (This includes previous convictions, arrests, and prior bad acts)
  • Mitigating Circumstances (This allows the jury or judge to consider if the defendant had a lesser role than others in the robbery, if the defendant was under influence of drugs or alcohol, and/or the motive for the robbery, for example the defendant is robbing a store so they can provide food for their family)

Juries and judges are allowed to consider these when choosing a sentence but are not required to value one category over the others. It is the criminal defense attorney’s job to emphasis good character and mitigating factors in order to shed a positive light on the defendant.

Contact An Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney If You Have Been Charged With The Crime Of Robbery Or Aggravated Robbery

Consulting with an attorney as soon as possible in the event you have been arrested for robbery or aggravated robbery is very important in order to preserve your rights, understand the law, ensure evidence is properly collected, create an effective defense, and safeguard a successful outcome.

A criminal defense attorney can help protect you and advise you on your rights during the criminal process. Defending against robbery or aggravated robbery is complex and involves many moving parts; hiring a defense attorney ensures that you are at a legal advantage when handling your case.

Contact us today if you or a loved one has been charged with robbery or aggravated robbery. (713) 229-9992.

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