Whenever you forcibly take something in the presence of another person in North Carolina, you can face criminal charges for robbery. Since a victim is present during the theft, the penalties are quite severe. If you have been arrested for robbery in North Carolina, contact the criminal defense attorneys at Caulder & Valentine for immediate legal assistance.
What is Robbery?
North Carolina embraces the common law definition for robbery: “the unlawful taking of property from the person of another through the use of threat or force.” In other words, you can be arrested for robbery in North Carolina when you forcibly take property directly from another person using threats, force, or intimidation.
In order to be convicted of robbery in North Carolina, state prosecutors must be able to prove that you are guilty of each element of the offense.
The first element of the crime of robbery requires that you take property belonging to another person. This simply means that you are committing an act of theft. Theft occurs when you take and move property without authority or consent.
From the Person of Another
In order to be classified as a robbery, property must be taken “from the person of another.” This can be accomplished by taking property:
- Directly from another person's body, or
- From another person's immediate presence.
Using Force or Fear
The crime of robbery requires that a theft is accomplished using violence, intimidation, or fear. This is a subjective standard that will be left up to a jury. The primary question will be if the victim was reasonably fearful for his or her safety, or the safety and well-being of their loved ones. A person can impose violence, force, or fear without the use of a dangerous weapon. Using a weapon will cause criminal charges to be aggravated.
Robbery With Firearms or Other Dangerous Weapons
While North Carolina adopts the common law definition for robbery, the state has its own law on the books for robbery involving a dangerous weapon. The penalties for robbery are aggravated when a person:
- Unlawfully takes or attempts to take the personal property from a person or business
- While having possession, using, or threatening to use a firearm or other dangerous weapon, and
- The life of a person is endangered or threatened.
Simply put, the penalties for robbery become more severe when the crime involves a firearm or other dangerous weapon.
What is a dangerous weapon? Courts have held that any item that can inflict serious bodily harm or cause death, regardless of its normal use, can be classified as a dangerous weapon. This can include items that have an innocuous and innocent purpose. Knives, daggers, box cutters, hand tools, and bats are items that can all be considered dangerous weapons for the purposes of robbery.
North Carolina Robbery Penalties
Robbery is always charged as a felony in North Carolina. The specific charge will depend on:
- Whether a weapon was used in the commission of the crime
- The defendant's prior history of criminal conduct, and
- The extent of any injuries suffered by the victim(s).
Common Law Robbery: Common law robbery, as set forth in N.C.G.S. § 14-87.1, is a Class G Felony in North Carolina. A Class G Felony is punishable by a maximum of 47 months in prison.
Robbery With a Dangerous Weapon: Robbery with a firearm or dangerous weapon, as set forth in N.C.G.S. § 14-87, is a Class D Felony in North Carolina. A Class G Felony is punishable by a maximum of 204 months in prison.
Defending Robbery Charges in North Carolina
Just because you are accused of robbery in North Carolina does not mean that you will be charged and convicted. You will have the opportunity to assert arguments in your defense. The defenses that you present should help to explain or excuse your behavior. When defense arguments are successful, the state will have a more difficult time building a strong case against you. This can increase the likelihood of securing a plea agreement or getting the charges dropped.
Defenses to the crime of robbery can include:
- Lack of required intent
- Mistaken belief the property was yours
- Taking back property that was lawfully yours
- Mistaken identity
- False accusation
- No use of force or fear, or
- Property was not taken from a person or their presence.
If you have been the victim of an unlawful search, seizure, or arrest, the state should not be allowed to use any evidence that was obtained illegally. An experienced North Carolina criminal defense attorney will immediately file a motion to suppress the use of any tainted evidence. Without evidence to support a case, the state will have a difficult time meeting its burden of proof.
Experienced North Carolina Robbery Attorneys
Are you facing criminal charges for robbery in North Carolina? Hiring an attorney to handle your defense will help you secure the best possible outcome in your case. Contact the North Carolina robbery attorneys at Caulder & Valentine to schedule a free consultation.