Can You Be Accused of Accidental Robbery?

There is a misconception in the media that if you take something that doesn’t belong to you, you’ve committed a robbery. Because of this, people often find themselves wondering if an accidental theft, such as taking something they thought was given to them or accepting or purchasing an item someone else stole (even if you didn’t know the item was stolen), can land them a robbery charge.

In this brief article, we spoke with a robbery attorney in Tampa with the team at The Rickman Law Firm to explain why you cannot be charged with robbery due to an accident, and how to defend yourself if you stand wrongfully accused of robbery.

What Constitutes Robbery?

To understand why you cannot (or, rather, should not) be accused of robbery due to accidental circumstances, you must first examine Florida law.

Under Florida Statute 812.13(1), the term “robbery” means “the taking of money or other property which may be the subject of larceny from the person or custody of another, with intent to either permanently or temporarily deprive the person or the owner of the money or other property, when in the course of the taking there is the use of force, violence, assault, or putting in fear.”

Robbery charges are felonies that fall under the following classifications:

  • First Degree: Robbery committed with a firearm or any deadly weapon.
  • Second Degree: Robbery committed without a firearm or any deadly weapon. Also called “Strong Arm” robbery.
  • Sudden Snatching: Taking a person’s property while the victim is aware of the act. For example, stealing a woman’s purse from her person and running.
  • Home Invasion: Entering someone’s home while occupants are present with the intention and the actual committing of a robbery.
  • Carjacking: Taking a vehicle from someone by force, fear, violence, or assault. Whether or not a firearm or deadly weapon is used, this could lead to a first-degree felony conviction.

Why an Accidental Theft Cannot be Robbery

In short, an accidental theft or even petit theft cannot be deemed a robbery without the threat of violence or use of force. So if you purchase a stolen item or you accidentally take something that doesn’t belong to you, although you might be facing other charges, you likely won’t be facing a robbery charge. The exception would be if you create fear in the person from whom you took the item.

Common Robbery Defenses

To be convicted of burglary or robbery, the state is required to prove the person accused had the intent to commit a crime. Therefore, a lack of criminal intent is also a defense. Your attorney may also discuss whether there were any threats of violence or actual violence in order to work with the state to reduce your charges. If you have been accused of robbery or burglary, contact a criminal defense attorney in Tampa with The Rickman Law Firm to discuss the best defense for your specific case. A free consultation with Anthony Rickman is just a phone call away.

For a free consultation with A robbery attorney in Tampa, please contact The Rickman Law Firm today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.


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