Robbery is one of the more common offenses charged by Florida courts. A conviction for robbery in Florida is always a felony, and, depending upon the charge and the circumstances, may lead to a life sentence in Florida’s prisons. What follows is what you need to know about some of the more common defenses against a robbery charge in Florida.
Florida law describes robbery as
the money or property of another
using force or threat
with the intent to deprive the owner of that property.
To meet the “taking” element, the state must show that the property was removed without the consent of the owner. The element of “force” is met if at any point the defendant uses or threatens force to obtain compliance, so long as the force is part of the overall chain of events. The property taken can be of any value to meet that element, even if the value is negligible. As to intent, the state must show specific intent on the part of the defendant to take control of the property either permanently or even just temporarily.
This is perhaps the most common defense to robbery in Florida. It simply means that the defendant denies having committed the act, leaving the burden of showing beyond a reasonable doubt that he or she did to the prosecution.
Although it isn’t strictly necessary for a defense of innocence, a defense attorney may offer an alibi to the jury to show that it would be impossible for his client to have been present for the crime. This can often be proven by witnesses stating that the defendant was with them at another location at the time the crime was committed.
Also under the auspices of innocence is the tactic of challenging the prosecution’s evidence. Often a good defense attorney can argue that certain evidence should be deemed inadmissible by a judge as a matter of law due to the way it was obtained or handled.
Another tactic that may be employed by a defense attorney defending against a charge of robbery in Florida is that of intoxication. If an individual is intoxicated, they are then unable to form the required mens rea (criminal intent) to sustain a conviction of robbery. Involuntary intoxication has the better odds than voluntary intoxication, largely due to the fact that the Florida legislature removed it as a defense to specific intent crimes by statute in 1999. However, showing that the intoxication was the result of a legally-prescribed medication taken in a lawful manner is still permitted as a defense to specific intent crimes like robbery in Florida.
Entrapment is another common defense to robbery in Florida. When claiming entrapment, the defendant is stating that someone else (often law enforcement) prodded him or her into committing a crime he or she did not originally intend to commit. Entrapment is a difficult defense to prove, however.
Perhaps the first cousin to entrapment is the defense of duress. In order to successfully argue duress to defend against a robbery charge in Florida, the defendant must show that he or she faced imminent death or bodily injury if he or she did not commit the crime of robbery.