arrest against dark backgroundThis is the fifth post in a series discussing how to defend against second-degree felony charges in Austin and other Texas areas. My last article addressed the topic of defending against sexual assault charges. Most people charged with such a crime do not know the steps to take to protect their rights. It is important to understand that anytime one has been arrested, the prosecution will take the matter very seriously. This article follows that discussion by addressing the process of dealing with accusations of robbery. The first step for anyone charged with robbery is to retain an experienced lawyer. If you or a family member are in need of assistance, then contact my office today to speak with a criminal defense attorney.

Facts will determine whether a Texas robbery is a first or second-degree felony

A person commits robbery in Texas if, during the course of a theft, they intentionally or recklessly cause bodily injury or threaten another with imminent bodily injury or death. The underlying crime of theft occurs if a person unlawfully appropriates property with intent to deprive the owner of the property. The crime of robbery, without aggravating factors, is a second-degree felony. Robbery with a finding of aggravating circumstances constitutes a first-degree felony and carries more severe penalties. To be found guilty of aggravated robbery, a person must also cause serious bodily injury during the course of the offense. They may also be found guilty of a first-degree charge if they use or exhibit a deadly weapon or cause or threaten to cause someone imminent bodily injury or death. The facts surrounding a robbery, therefore, will determine whether one is charged with a first-degree or second-degree felony. If convicted, the punishment for a second-degree felony is mandatory imprisonment for 2- 20 years. If the crime constitutes a first-degree felony, the imprisonment may be 5 years to life.

The foregoing difference between a first-degree felony of aggravated robbery and a second-degree crime can best be explained through an example. Suppose Joe chooses to steal a woman’s purse at a train station and threatens the victim with physical violence during the theft. This meets the elements of theft and robbery. These circumstances can keep the offense at second-degree. However, if the victim Joe targeted is over 65 years old or disabled then Joe can then be charged with aggravated robbery and may receive a life sentence. It is also likely Joe will incur additional charges or counts if he caused fear and harm to multiple people or stole multiple pieces of property. The enhancement of a charge from second-degree to first-degree is very fact specific and will depend on the particulars of the case.

Possible defenses for Austin residents facing second-degree robbery charges

Robbery cases can involve a number of issues. These may include constitutional violations due to the way law enforcement obtained evidence or eyewitness identifications. To obtain a search warrant, law enforcement must have probable cause of criminal activity. First, evidence that is obtained without a warrant, or otherwise in violation of the constitution, may be excluded from Court proceedings. Second, eyewitness identifications may be excluded from court if they were obtained through overly suggestive means. Texas has adopted statutory guidelines required by law enforcement to ensure that the procedures for selecting photographic or live lineup participants are reliable. Defending against these types of violations requires experience and an understanding of a complex area of the law.

The crimes of robbery or aggravated robbery are extremely serious and could result in a lengthy prison term. I am an Austin criminal defense lawyer who devotes his practice to protecting the rights of accused individuals. I believe that everyone is entitled to effective legal representation. I am Board Certified in Criminal Defense by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and prepared to assist you. Contact us online or by telephone to schedule an initial consultation. My office also serves the cities of Rollingwood, Round Rock, Elgin, Jonestown, Manor, Bee Cave, Lago Vista, Sunset Valley, Lakeway, Creedmoor, Georgetown, Cedar Park, Leander, and San Marcos, Texas.