Robbery is theft from a person with the use or threat of force. It can range from a street mugging to a bank heist. The penalties range considerably based on the facts of the case, and what someone's prior criminal record looks like. In general, however, if the Commonwealth can prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the person was masked or had his or her facial features altered, or that they used a firearm to commit the offense, the mandatory minimum sentence is five years in the state prison. Penalties range up to life imprisonment, and the mandatory minimums increase depending primarily on prior convictions and the nature of the weapon used.
Proof of Identity
Robbery is a serious offense, and police are encouraged to pursue the allegation as vigorously as possible. The result, however, is that when the police have settled on a suspect in a robbery case, they will issue charges based on evidence that would seldom be considered sufficient for other, lower profile offenses.
Security camera footage is usually very low quality. Eyewitness are not very good at picking out faces of unfamiliar people. You need a lawyer to look over the case to see when the police try to lead the eyewitness to pick the person they want, and to know what to do when your case has some flimsy identification procedures. Contact me today to discuss the different ways to challenge a case that rests on the identification of a person by a complete stranger.
The Weapon (Firearm-Armed)
Certain kinds of armed robbery carry mandatory minimums that others do not. For example, where the prosecution alleges that the weapon used to commit the offense was a firearm, the mandatory minimum is increased to five years. One of the biggest mistakes the police can make is to allege a firearm-armed robbery where the weapon is never recovered. In such cases, the prosecutor will never be able to prove the charges alleged, because the prosecutor will be unable to prove that whatever it was that the perpetrator had was actually a dangerous weapon. As an exmple, the Supreme Judicial Court recently ruled that a B-B gun is not the same as a "firearm."
Once the police have someone in custody, they will try to conduct an 'interrogation.' Police frequently use this opportunity to expand the investigation into other people who might have participated. However, the interrogation room is not the best place to get a story straight.
In the interrogation room, the witness is angry, scared, and sometimes even beginning to detox from drugs. Under those conditions, people are liable to say anything it takes to get them out of the little room full of detectives. He or she usually has some reason to want to sell someone else out – if for no other reason than the hope that the police will cut him or her a break (which, of course, they ordinarily do not).
If you or someone you know have been named by someone in an interview with detectives, you need to speak with an attorney right away to discuss your rights, and the best ways to preserve the evidence you may need to defend yourself and your case. Call me at any time for a free consultation to discuss your case.