Armed Robbery Lawyers in Michigan
In Michigan, armed robbery is one of the most serious offenses you can be charged with. In fact, it’s what’s known as a capital offense, meaning that it is punishable by up to life in prison. If you’re being investigated for or charged with armed robbery, you need to take the matter seriously. Hire an experienced attorney who has successfully represented armed robbery cases.
If you were to ask the proverbial man on the street to describe an armed robbery, he’d probably tell you about someone in a ski mask busting into a store and holding up the cashier for the money in the register. While that would certainly fit the bill, in Michigan, armed robbery is defined to bring a much broader variety of conduct under its ambit.
Armed robbery is comprised of four elements, the essential ingredients that establish the crime. Let’s take a look.
Force, Violence or Threat Against a Victim
First, the defendant used force or violence or the threat of force or violence against a victim. Notably, the “victim” doesn’t necessary have to be the person the money or property was stolen from. It can be any person who was present during the crime.
Course of Committing Larceny
Second, the defendant was in the course of committing a larceny. A “larceny” is the taking of someone else’s money or property with the intent to keep it permanently (i.e., not give it back). Significantly, “in the course of committing a larceny” is defined expansively to include acts that occur in an attempt to commit the larceny, or during the commission of the larceny, or in flight or attempted flight after the commission of the larceny, or in an attempt to retain possession of the money or property.
Victim Present During Larceny
Third, the victim was present while the defendant was in the course of committing the larceny. This element is not going to be in dispute in most cases.
In Possession of a Weapon
Fourth, the defendant did one of the following in the course of committing the larceny:
- Possessed a weapon designed to be dangerous and capable of causing death or serious injury
- Possessed any other object capable of causing death or serious injury that the defendant used as a weapon
- Possessed any other object used or fashioned in a manner to lead the victim to reasonably believe that it was a dangerous weapon
- Represented orally or otherwise that he or she was in possession of a weapon
As you can see, armed robbery involves a lot more than just the man in the ski mask with the gun. It could also include, for instance, a man who robs a store while pretending to hold a gun in his coat pocket. Or it could include someone who shoplifts something from a store and later brandishes a knife while trying to flee the scene. The breadth of armed robbery in Michigan is important because, again, armed robbery is a capital offense.
And armed robbery is not the only theft-related crime in Michigan. There’s also, of course, unarmed robbery. Basically, the elements are the same as armed robbery, minus the fourth element involving the possession of a weapon, possession of an object used as a weapon, etc. Unarmed robbery is a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
Another notable theft crime is carjacking. As in armed and unarmed robbery, there first needs to be force or a threat of force. The second element requires that the defendant be in the course of committing a larceny of a motor vehicle. The third element requires that the victim be the operator, passenger, person in lawful possession, or person attempting to recover possession of a motor vehicle. Note that there’s no requirement that the defendant use a weapon, although most people commonly think of carjacking as involving a weapon. Even so, carjacking in Michigan is a capital offense punishable by up to life in prison.
Finally, there’s larceny from a person, defined as “stealing from the person of another.” It’s distinguished from unarmed robbery in that force or threat of force was not used to accomplish the larceny. The most common example that comes to mind is pickpocketing. Larceny from a person is a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
Defenses to Armed Robbery in Michigan
If you were to ask most defense attorneys what defenses come up most often in theft cases, they’d probably give you three answers. First is misidentification. Often, the police arrest someone suspected of committing a robbery and ask the victim to identify whether the suspect was the robber. There’s a large body of scientific literature showing that victims in these situations frequently make mistakes, even if they say they’re “positive” or “100 percent certain” that the suspect was the robber.
Second is an alibi. Everyone knows what an alibi is. You have witnesses or other evidence to indicate that you were somewhere else during the robbery.
Third, some cases will involve what’s called a claim of right defense. This can come into play if the defendant took the money or property at issue honestly believing that it was theirs or that they had a legal right to it.
As always, consult an experienced criminal defense attorney to find out what defenses could apply in your case.
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If you’re facing armed robbery or theft charges, contact us online or call us at our 24/7 defense hotline at 1-800-342-7896.