Robbery is a serious felony carrying equally serious penalties (possibly life in prison for armed robbery or for unarmed robbery of a senior citizen). A robbery occurs when one takes or attempts to take something of value from the victim, using either force or the threat of force to do so. The common law definition is the taking of another person’s property, with the intent that the other person will be permanently deprived of it, using force or fear. It is distinguished from theft by this use of violence and/or intimidation.
The United States defines a robbery as the aggravated form of a common law larceny. It consists of eight elements, the last two of which elevate the crime from the larceny. The first six of these are that a (1) trespassory (2) takes away (3) and carries away (4) the personal property (5) of another (6) with the intent to steal. From the person or presence of the victim is the seventh element. In order to be a robbery, the property in question must have been taken either directly from the victim’s person or his or her presence. On the other hand, larceny requires only that the property be taken from either the actual or constructive possession of the victim. Property is considered to be on the victim’s person if the victim is either holding the property, or it is held somewhere within the victim’s clothing or is attached to the victim’s body, such as jewelry. Also, the robbery could have been prevented from occurring had the victim not been afraid to take action due to the proximity of the property to the victim. Finally, there must the use of threat or force. This is the most important element of the robbery. A lot of the litigation having to do with this crime focuses on this element and exactly what degree of force is necessary. The act of snatching the property is not enough force, with an exception if the victim is resisting or items are attached to the person that a lot of force must be used to get the item. In addition, the victim needs to be afraid that he or she would be harmed by either threats or intimidation. Threats can either be directed at the victim, or at a third party. However, no matter who the threat is directed at, it must be for the present rather than the future. Simple fright is insufficient, the victim must be aware that they in danger of immediate physical harm.
Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 265 Section 19 is the statute that governs the crime of robbery. Robbery is (1) a larceny (2) from the person (3) by force. “From the person” basically means that the person could have kept control of the property if he was not overwhelmed by fear or violence. “Force” means either real force or constructive force. The prosecutor has to prove each of these three elements beyond a reasonable doubt to convict you of this crime.
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