Articles Posted in Robbery

It is not uncommon for a defendant to defend against his or her charges by offering the testimony of a witness who supports the defendant’s alibi. Recently, a New Jersey court assessed to what extent the State is permitted to weaken a defendant’s defense by questioning an alibi witness regarding his or her earlier silence, in a case in which the defendant was charged with robbery and other crimes. If you are accused of a theft crime, it is important to consult an experienced New Jersey criminal defense attorney to discuss what evidence the State is permitted to use against you at trial.

Facts of the Case

Allegedly, the defendant and another man entered a shoe store at night. One of the men pulled out a gun, and both men directed the women working in the store to lie on the floor in the back room, after which they tied the hands and feet of the women. The women gave the men the combination to the safe, and the men accessed the safe and removed money and then left. A glove was found at the store that was later determined to have the defendant’s DNA. Additionally, one of the women working at the time of the incident identified that defendant when presented with an array of photos.

It is reported that the defendant was charged with robbery, kidnapping, and other crimes, but only the robbery and kidnapping charges proceeded to trial. At trial, the defendant presented two alibi witnesses. A hearing was held during the trial on the issue of whether the State could cross-examine the second alibi witness regarding her prior silence, after which the court found in favor of the State. The defendant was ultimately convicted. He then appealed, arguing that the trial court erred in allowing the State to cross-examine the alibi witness.

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A Wall Township man was arrested and charged with robbery after stealing a money box from a local restaurant. The suspect stole the box when restaurant personnel were preoccupied with an order. The defendant was apparently unsatisfied with this theft and demanded additional money from the clerk. Police were able to identify the man and executed a search at his home. Upon arriving at the assailant’s home, police were greeted by his mother who denied knowledge of his whereabouts. As they continued questioning of the mother, the defendant fell through the sheetrock ceiling and landed on the floor. Police then arrested the man for the robbery and bail was set at $50,000. Charges of hindering and/or obstruction have yet to be filed against the mother.

Robbery is a Second Degree Crime under N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1 where no weapon is involved. A person can be charged with robbery in accordance with section 2C:15-1 if, in the course of committing a theft, he causes:  1) bodily injury to another or uses forces on anotheror;  2) threatens or purposely puts another in fear of  immediate bodily injury; or 3) commits or threatens to commit a crime of the first or second degree. A charge or indictment for Robbery requires four elements: (1) the accused attempted or committed a theft; (2) the defendant threatened or used force during the course of the theft; (3) the force or threat of force occurred during the theft or flight from the theft; and (4) the accused acted intentionally. It appears that the State will have an easy time establishing these elements if the facts contained in the press are accurate.

The more complicated question in this case may involve potential charges against the suspect’s mother for violating N.J.S.A. 2C:29-3 by virtue of hindering apprehension or prosecution of her son. N.J.S.A. 2C:29-3 describes seven types of conduct which constitute hindering: (1) harboring or concealing a person who is being sought by law enforcement; (2) aiding a suspect by providing a weapon, money, transportation, disguise or other means to avoid discovery or apprehension; (3) concealing, tampering or destroying evidence of a crime or information which would otherwise aid law enforcement; (4) warning the suspect of anticipated apprehension; (5) making threats, force, intimidation or deception to prevent or obstruct apprehension; (6) engaging in conduct to protect the profit or gain derived from the commission of a crime; or (7) giving false information to prevent, hinder or impede investigation or apprehension. Each of the above acts must be undertaken with the purpose to hinder in order for the related conduct to provide a basis for violation under N.J.S.A. 2C:29-3. The statute also requires that the suspect have knowledge that the person being protected was the target or actually charged with a crime, motor vehicle offense or insurance fraud. The degree or grading of a hindering offense is predicated on the extent or seriousness of the underlying offense sought to be hindered and the relationship between the suspect and the person who is the target of the underlying offense. Where an individual is hindering to avoid a crime of the Second Degree or higher, the hindering is a third degree crime. An exception to this rule applies, however, where the target and the hinderer are spouses or enjoy a parental relationship. In this instance, the hindering is a Fourth Degree crime. Hindering is otherwise a disorderly persons offense.

The Asbury Park Press reported today on three separate robbery cases which arose in recent days in Monmouth County.  One of the incidents involved an assault turned robbery in Long Branch. There was no weapon involved. In another case in Neptune, the robbery involved a holdup by a suspect armed with a handgun. In the third theft, a shoplifting turned into a robbery in Holmdel New Jersey.

The three cases are interesting as they each illustrate a different pedigree of robbery. In this regard, a theft turns into a robbery where force is used to escape. This is commonly referred to as a strong arm robbery.  A strong arm robbery is a Second Degree offense punishable by 5 to 10 years in prison. Where a weapon is involved, the robbery is termed an armed robbery. Armed robbery is a First Degree charge in New Jersey and carries 10 to 20 years of imprisonment. It is important to keep in mind that an armed robbery need not involve a traditional weapon like a gun, knife or bat; a car can even be a weapon as was the case in the Holmdel robbery wherein the suspect used a car to assault a store employee during escape.

We previously reported on the rise in theft statistics statewide. The report of three robberies yesterday in Monmouth County may be a reflection of this trend.

The Robbery Law is contained at N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1. It defines robbery as a theft, during the commission of which, a person: (1) either inflicts bodily injury or uses force; or (2) threatens to cause immediate bodily injury or a first or second degree crime. For purposes of 2C:15-1, “commission” includes attempt to commit a theft or flight therefrom.

Grading.
Where an individual uses a weapon (including threats), or attempts or inflicts serious bodily injury, a Robbery is a First Degree offense. Robbery is otherwise a Second Degree offense.

Punishment & Penalties. A second degree robbery is punishable in New Jersey by a period of imprisonment of 5-10 years in jail. A first degree robbery involves jail exposure of 10-20 years in jail. The No Early Release Act (NERA) also applies in either case. NERA mandates that an individual serve 85% of his prison term before he is eligible for parole.

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