Armed robbery in Texas what do I need to know?

Recently on our legal forum a user asked, “I have been charged with armed robbery in the State of Texas. I am wondering what penalties I might face and what I need to know about this charge.” 

In the State of Texas, Armed robbery is considered a very serious criminal offense with severe penalties. If you have been arrested and charged it is important to immediately contact a criminal defense lawyer. Do not plead guilty without first talking to a lawyer and discussing possible options for your criminal defense.

What is armed robbery? 

Armed robbery is defined in the Texas Criminal Penal Code, Title 7, Chapter 29. Specifically, you can be charged and convicted of armed robbery if the state can prove that while committing theft you “intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causes bodily injury to another” or “intentionally, knowingly or recklessly threatened the victim or caused the victim to fear bodily injury or death.” 

Additionally, you may be charged with aggravated armed robbery if you used a deadly weapon or the person you threatened was elderly or physically, mentally, or developmentally disabled and unable to protect themselves from harm.

What penalties will I face in Texas for armed robbery? 

Assuming this is your first criminal charge, if you are arrested for robbery you can be charged with a second degree felony. If convicted you can receive two to twenty years in a state prison and be forced to pay up to $10,000. 

If you are charged with aggravated robbery, however, this is considered a First Degree Felony charge, and you can be sentenced to a minimum of 5 years up to life in prison and be required to pay up to $10,000 in penalties.

Unfortunately, if you are convicted, it is very unlikely that you will be eligible for probation. In fact, under Texas Code of Criminal Procedure 42.12 (3)(g) only a jury, not a judge, can sentence a person to probation or community service if they are successful convicted.

Common defenses against robbery

Although it is impossible to say for sure what defense might apply to your case, there are a variety of common defenses which can be used against a robbery charge that you can discuss with your criminal defense attorney. Below are listed the most common defenses.

  1. You are not guilty.

Occasionally, due to lack of evidence or inaccurate eye witness testimony, the prosecution may have simply arrested and charged the wrong person. Fortunately, the state has the burden of proving that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If you did not commit the crime in which you have been convicted you can present evidence to weaken the prosecution’s case.

For example, if eye witness testimony puts you at the scene of the crime you can offer information that proves you were not there. For example, you have evidence that you were attending a business meeting at the time the crime was committed. Evidence can include multiple testimony by other witnesses or security videos of you at another location.

Keep in mind, you do not have to prove you are innocent, you only have to provide enough evidence to create reasonable doubt in the minds of the jurors. 

  1. You took property you believed was your property.

Another defense against robbery is called claim of right. Under this defense, the suspect may be able to argue that they had a good faith belief that they owned the property they have been charged with taking. For example, if someone stole your bicycle and you later saw that same bike in another person’s yard and decided to steal it back, you may be able to assert the defense that you had the right to claim the property since it originally belonged to you. 

  1. You were intoxicated.

Proving involuntary intoxication or that you were drugged against your will and without your knowledge may be a defense for criminal behaviors committed while intoxicated. In other cases, however, if you were voluntary intoxicated at the time the offense was committed it may not be a good defense. In fact, while some states may allow you to plead to a lesser charge, using this defense generally will require that you prove that you could not form the necessary intent to commit the crime in which you have been charged.

  1. You were entrapped or under duress. 

Finally, you may be able to provide evidence against a robbery charge if you can prove that the crime was committed under duress- which means someone was threatening death or bodily injury if you did not participate- or through entrapment- which means somehow the criminal action was instigated with the sole purpose of getting your arrested and charged.

What can a criminal defense lawyer do for me?

State laws and penalties vary. Talk to a defense lawyer if you have questions about your options. Defense lawyers can help protect you from police intimidation, protect your constitutional rights, investigate your case, defend your case in court, and/or negotiate a plea agreement.

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