Defendant Convicted of Robbery Even When Victim Not in Fear of Violence
In Florida, robbery is a serious felony offense that occurs when a person takes the property of another by the use of force, the threat of force, violence or putting the victim in fear of violence. Robbery is a second degree felony in Florida if no firearm or other weapon is used. If a weapon is used, then it becomes a first degree felony.
The definition of robbery would seem to require that the victim be placed in fear of violence. However, that is not the case. In a recent robbery case south of Jacksonville, Florida, the defendant went into a bank and gave the teller a note saying she was being robbed and to give him the money. Apparently, the teller was not worried about the defendant doing anything violent to her, but she did give him money. After the defendant was caught, his criminal defense lawyer argued that he did not commit a robbery because the defendant did not use force or place the victim in fear of violence. The victim agreed. However, the defendant was still convicted of robbery. Under Florida law, the defendant commits a robbery even if he does not place the victim in fear, if a reasonable person would have been in fear of violence under those circumstances. The court decided that although this victim was not in fear, a reasonable person would have been so the defendant's robbery conviction was confirmed.