Could threats alone support robbery charges?

by | Aug 31, 2021 | Criminal Defense

Anyone who pulls a gun on someone and demands money could look at a lengthy prison sentence. The law takes a dim view on those who force someone to hand over money under the threat of violence. What if the threat is only verbal, though? In New Jersey, a defendant might find the criminal court system to be unfriendly to someone who uses threats to commit a robbery.

Robbery with or without a weapon

An assailant does not need to brandish a weapon to threaten someone to hand over cash or jewelry forcibly. Threatening someone with severe bodily harm or lying about having a weapon in a pocket might be enough to terrify someone to comply.

A critical fact does not change when someone commits a robbery. The assailant forces someone to hand over property unwillingly, and the assailant intends to deprive the victim of said property permanently.

The threat of force is sufficient to support robbery charges. Granted, someone who uses a knife or gun to commit a robbery could face harsher charges than someone who “merely” employs the threat of force. Regardless, the defendant may end up facing serious charges.

Questions about robbery charges

Robbery falls under statutes related to stealing, as do theft and burglary. Someone may face robbery charges, but criminal defense evidence may point to a lesser charge. For example, someone may commit shoplifting without ever engaging with a store employee. The employee could tell the police the accused used threats to procure the stolen merchandise. Security camera footage may contradict the employee’s claims.

Evidence could even reveal no crime occurred. If eyewitnesses testify someone had permission to take merchandise or money, convicting someone of theft or robbery could prove unlikely.