Austin Robbery Lawyer
If you have been arrested and charged with robbery in Texas, you should get in touch with a skilled criminal defense lawyer at Cofer & Connelly, PLLC right away. We have the expertise and resources to mount a powerful challenge to the charges. We will work hard to protect your rights and get your case resolved in the best manner possible, given your unique circumstances.
Contact us online today or call us at (512) 991-0576 to schedule an appointment with our Austin robbery lawyers.
Robbery in Texas
Many people associate the crimes of theft and robbery in their minds as just about the same thing, and there is a good reason to hold this belief. The two crimes do relate to each other directly in their definitions. Theft is the underlying crime of robbery, and it is defined as taking another person’s property with the intent to deprive them of it permanently.
Robbery is a theft involving violence (or the threat of violence) that causes bodily injury.
Because of the bodily injury that occurs or that is threatened in the case of a robbery, it is a more serious crime than theft. A Texas prosecutor will charge robbery as a felony of the second degree. Aggravated robbery is charged as a felony of the first degree; this is the most serious crime under Texas law, short of a capital crime that can be punished by death.
A person commits robbery under Texas law when they:
“…in the course of committing theft … and with intent to obtain or maintain control of the property…
- intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes bodily injury to another; or
- intentionally or knowingly threatens or places another in fear of imminent bodily injury or death.”
So, according to Texas law, a robbery occurs when someone is committing theft, they intentionally or recklessly cause bodily injury to anyone, whether it is the property owner or anyone else. Also included in the definition of robbery are cases where the accused threatens anyone, whether the owner of the property or someone else and places them in fear of injury or death while taking the property.
Robbery Legal Definition in Texas
The law that explains the crime of robbery in Texas begins with some definitions of a few key terms used in the law. These terms are crucial in understanding the elements of the crime that a prosecutor must prove to a judge or jury beyond a reasonable doubt to get a robbery conviction.
In The Course Of Committing Theft
Everything that happens throughout an attempted theft is legally considered to be within the course of committing theft. This includes all the activities leading up to the theft and the actions that follow as the accused tries to flee the scene. The entire sequence of events comes within the scope of “the course of committing theft.” So, a person who intentionally or recklessly causes injury or threatens violent injury to anyone during this entire “course of committing theft” can be charged with the more serious crime of robbery versus theft, which is a lesser criminal offense.
The word “property” is defined very broadly under Texas law. There are two parts to the definition of property in the law.
The first part of the definition includes “tangible or intangible” personal property “including anything severed from land.” This phrase is meant to include every possible thing that can be of any sort of value to anyone, from a wristwatch or eyeglasses to a valuable rose bush that a thief might try to remove from a piece of property and take away.
The second part of the definition specifies that property under the law includes “a document, including money, that represents anything of value.” This broad definition includes cash, which is paper printed to have financial value, of course. It also includes checks, stock certificates, a deed to real estate, and any other type of document that represents value to the owner of the paper.
Intentionally or Knowingly
The law requires a particular mental state of the robber who caused an injury during the course of committing a robbery. The law uses the phrase "intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes bodily injury." Each of these three words has a unique definition. A Texas prosecutor must prove that one of the states of mind existed in the accused at the time of the crime to get a conviction for robbery under this section of the law.
The first two words are similar but slightly different. Texas law speaks of the mental state of "intentionally or knowingly" as the person is "aware that the conduct is reasonably certain to cause the result."
Intentionally means that the person who caused the injury meant to cause an injury. A person who swings a fist directly at someone and strikes the face of the person trying to protect their property or someone else has intentionally caused an injury.
Knowingly means that the person took action that was likely to cause injury, even if they weren’t sure how it would injure someone. Someone who swings an elbow backward at a person trying to restrain them from escaping with the stolen property could be flailing wildly, not planning to connect that elbow with the other person's nose. But the action was taken "knowingly" with the understanding that another person was in the range of the elbow. The injury that resulted was a known consequence of that action.
A reckless mental state is one where the person doing the action is aware of a substantial risk that injury could occur. A thief who runs wildly through a crowd while escaping from the scene of the theft is acting recklessly. They are aware of the risk that a startled crowd might include children or elderly people, or even just average individuals who could be injured in the panic. The reckless action of barreling through a crowd at high speed, intending to get through the people at any cost, is sufficient to meet the legal standard of "recklessly causes bodily injury to another."
The legal definition of ‘bodily injury’ is a very low bar for a prosecutor to meet to prove the case of a robbery. A bruise, scratch, strained muscle, or even a twisted ankle is enough to meet the standard of bodily injury as required in a simple robbery case. So, whenever a prosecutor can prove that the accused “intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly” caused a scratch or bruise or some slight superficial injury, they can meet the legal standard to get a conviction on a robbery charge.
Penalties for Robbery in Texas
Robbery is charged as a felony of the second degree in Texas courts. Punishment can be a prison term of two to twenty years and a fine of up to $10,000. However, the consequences of a conviction don't stop at the prison sentence and financial penalties. A convicted felon will face countless life challenges, from losing voting rights to giving up gun ownership. The effects of a felony conviction are sure to extend beyond the time served in prison.
Texas Aggravated Robbery
An aggravated robbery is one that involves serious bodily injury, the use of a deadly weapon in the crime, or a victim who is 65 years of age or older or disabled with mental, physical, or emotional limitations that make them unable to protect themselves from harm.
Aggravated Robbery Definitions
The elements that a prosecutor must prove for an aggravated robbery conviction include some key terms that have specific definitions in Texas law. It is the prosecutor’s duty to prove every element of the crime as charged beyond a reasonable doubt to get a conviction.
Serious Bodily Injury
Distinct from the simple bodily injury that is part of the definition of robbery, a serious bodily injury is one way a prosecutor can elevate the charges to a first-degree felony. Texas law defines a serious bodily injury as one that leads to a real risk of death or an injury that is not initially fatal but ultimately causes death, permanent disfigurement, or ongoing loss or impairment of functioning to any body part or organ.
Many objects can be considered a 'deadly weapon' under the law. One category of deadly weapons is those that are deadly by design, such as a gun, knife, or machete. A prosecutor will not need to prove anything beyond the fact that the object was used in the robbery to establish that these types of objects are deadly weapons.
Another category of deadly weapons is those objects that can become deadly depending on their use. To be considered a deadly weapon, the thing does not need to cause death in the case at issue, but the prosecutor will need to show that, because of how the object was used in the crime, it had the potential to be a deadly weapon. This can include a vehicle that was driven at someone during the course of the robbery, a baseball bat or heavy frying pan that is used as a weapon, or any number of everyday objects that can have deadly potential if wielded as a weapon in a robbery.
Penalties for Aggravated Robbery in Texas
Aggravated robbery is charged as a felony of the first degree in Texas courts. Punishment includes a prison term of five to 99 years and fines of $10,000.
A Strong Defense to Robbery Charges in TX
Any charge of robbery is a very serious criminal case. A guilty plea to the charges or a conviction as charged will have lifetime consequences for the defendant. This is no time to try to defend yourself in court or to rely on just any attorney, such as an appointed public defender. A capable robbery defense attorney in Austin will analyze the prosecutor’s allegations in detail and conduct their own thorough investigation to find facts that will aid the defense of the case.
The skilled and experienced Austin robbery attorneys at Cofer & Connelly, PLLC will aggressively represent their clients who face any type of robbery charge. Reach out online or call 512-991-0576 to schedule a free consultation.
The skilled and experienced Austin robbery lawyers at Cofer & Connelly, PLLC will aggressively represent their clients who face any type of robbery charge. Reach out online or call (512) 991-0576 to schedule a free consultation.
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