Alexandria Robbery Lawyer
Although people in Alexandria may use the terms robbery and theft interchangeably, under Virginia law, robbery is treated as a much more serious offense. Robbery combines the elements of a basic theft crime such as larceny with violence or the threat of violence, and it becomes a combination crime. Virginia lawmakers classified robbery as a very serious felony with correspondingly severe penalties.
So if you are facing robbery charges, it is important to have an experienced theft attorney begin collecting evidence and building the best possible defensive strategy as soon as possible. A skilled Alexandria robbery lawyer can provide guidance at all stages of proceedings, advocate on your behalf in the courtroom and out, and explore all possible avenues of defense to help you reach the best disposition of your case.
Robbery is Not Defined in the Virginia Code
Unlike many other crimes, robbery is not defined in the Virginia code. Instead, the crime merely describes how robbery is to be punished. Virginia criminal law developed based on English common law, and in many instances where the elements of an offense are not described in statutes, (and even sometimes when they are) it is presumed that the crimes retain their common law meaning.
Robbery has traditionally been defined to consist of the taking of the property of another person from their body (or immediate presence) through the use of force or intimidation, with the intent to permanently deprive them of that property. The aspects of taking the property with intent to deprive the owner of its use is a basic larceny or theft.
The added elements of taking the property directly from the owner’s physical presence and using force or threat of force are what turns a theft into the violent crime of robbery.
What the Virginia Statutes Say About Robbery
Section 18.2-58 of the Virginia code specifies that when a person commits robbery through certain means, the offense is treated as a felony punishable by a prison sentence of at least five years or any term up to and including life.
The means listed in the statute that cause robbery to be treated so severely include:
- Partial suffocation or strangulation
- Beating or striking
- Any other sort of violent contact
- Assault or otherwise causing the victim to fear serious bodily harm
- Threat or presentation of firearms or other deadly instruments
Based on this definition, showing a gun while taking property from another would trigger the serious robbery penalties, even if no actual force is used or any injury occurs.
Simple Circumstances Can Turn a Larceny into a Robbery
Larceny generally consists of the unauthorized taking of the property of another person. The penalties for larceny are more severe when the property is of greater value or when the property is taken directly from someone’s body, as in a pickpocket crime.
Taking property from the body of another is sometimes referred to a larceny from the person. While this is usually treated as grand larceny, which is a felony, the maximum penalties are not as severe as those for robbery, and courts often do not view larceny in the same light as robbery.
A situation that starts out as a nonviolent larceny from the person can be considered robbery if there is any sort of scuffle, or if a gun is seen.
Working with an Alexandria Robbery Defense Attorney
With penalties this severe, it is not a good idea to take chances or waste time. If you are facing robbery charges, your best hope to defend against the charges is to start working with a knowledgeable Alexandria robbery lawyer as quickly as possible so that your attorney can begin collecting and preserving vital evidence. For a free consultation to learn how we can help, contact our office now.