Donte T Wyatt -
What can a good criminal attorney do with your robbery case?
Robbery is the unlawful taking of the property of another by force or fear.
A person cannot be convicted of Robbery unless the prosecutor proves the following elements beyond a reasonable
1. The defendant took property that was not (his/her) own;
2. The property was taken from another person’s possession and immediate presence;
3. The property was taken against that person’s will;
4. The defendant used force or fear to take the property or to prevent the person from resisting;
5. When the defendant used force or fear to take the property, (he/she) intended (to deprive the owner of it
permanently/ [or] to remove it from the owner’s possession
for so extended a period of time that the owner would be deprived of a major portion of the value or enjoyment of
The defendant’s intent to take the property must have been formed before or during the time (he/she) used
force or fear. If the defendant did not form this required intent until after using the force or fear, then
(he/she) did not commit robbery
Carjacking and First Degree Robbery
Penal Code section 215(a)states:
"Carjacking" is the felonious taking of a motor vehicle in the possession of another, from his or her person or
immediate presence, or from the person or immediate presence of a passenger of the motor vehicle, against his or
her will and with the intent to either permanently or temporarily deprive the person in possession of the motor
vehicle of his or her possession, accomplished by means of force or fear.
Penal Code section 212.5(a) states:
Every robbery of any person who is performing his or her duties as an operator of any bus, taxicab, cable car,
streetcar, trackless trolley, or other vehicle, including a vehicle operated on stationary rails or on a track or
rail suspended in the air, and used for the transportation of persons for hire, every robbery of any passenger
which is perpetrated on any of these vehicles, and every robbery which is perpetrated in an inhabited dwelling
house, a vessel as defined in Section 21 of the Harbors and Navigation Code which is inhabited and designed for
habitation, an inhabited floating home as defined in subdivision (d) of Section 18075.55 of the Health and Safety
Code, a trailer coach as defined in the Vehicle Code which is inhabited, or the inhabited portion of any other
building is robbery of the first degree.
These enhanced robberies are defendant like any other theft case, first attacking the identification of the
person charged. However the defense attorney can further seek to attack the additional elements intended to elevate
the charge to robbery, car jacking or first degree robbery.
How do you mount a defense against a robbery charg? Due to the fact that in most cases the elements of the offense
will be me a skilled criminal defense attorney will generally focuses their defense in a robbery case around the
identification of their client as the robber. Most robbery cases are based off of eye witness identifications.
Therefore the Criminal Defense attorney must know how to evaluate the eye witness identification. The criminal
defense attorney must determine if the witness had an opportunity to get a good look at the culprit prior to the
identification. In addition the criminal defense attorney must determine if the eyewitness identification was
affected by the eye witness still being under the stress of the moment, was the way in which the suspect presented
bias in any way. Are the witness and the suspect of different ethnicities. Does the witness’s physical description
of the person that robbed him or her actually match the suspect.
The criminal defense attorney must evaluate the type of initial identification and the criminal defense attorney
must have experience dealing with each type of identifications. There are several types of out of court
identifications that may confront the criminal defense attorney.
Curbside Line Up:
This is generally shortly or soon after the incident. The officers identify a possible suspect and they bring the
victim to the location of the suspect and they allow the victim to see the suspect and the victim tries to make a
positive identification if the suspect is the person that committed the crime.
There are several problem with the curbside lineup that the experienced criminal defense attorney will be aware of
and use in the defense of the accused. First, there usually only one person for the victim to choose from.
Secondly, the suspect is often in a location with bad and lighting. The suspect is also often in a patrol car or in
handcuffs with officers around him creating an aurora of guilt. Therefore these types of line ups are very bias
against the suspect.
Photo Line Up:
This is when the officer shows the victim a set of photos with possible suspects. The criminal defense attorney
must review this type of line up to insure that the line up is not biased. Do all of the people look similar or
does only one or two actually match the description given by the victim. Was a reasonable amount of photos shown to
the victim. Was there anything suggestive about the photo of the suspect or the way in which the detective or
officer conducted the line up.
Live Line Up:
This is when the officer or the detective has several people in a controlled environment (usually in a room
dedicated for this purpose) and the officer has the victim look at each individual and determine if the victim can
make an identification. Although, this is better then a photo line up it still has several flaws. First it is
usually hours if not days or weeks after the incident. In addition, it is important to determine if the subjects in
the line up look reasonably close to the description given by the victim.
With the advances in DNA evidence juries and the public in general has began to question eye witness identification
evidence, however in order for a defendant to effectively take advantage of this shift in public consciousness they
need an attorney that can effectively evaluate these types of identification and present a defense that exploits
the short coming of each of these types of evidence.
Robbery is the unlawful taking of the property of another by force or fear. A person cannot be convicted of
Robbery unless the prosecutor proves a few elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
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