Coloradans have seen their fair share of news about robbery recently.
It wasn’t long ago that police arrested a man in Colorado Springs for robbing 17 different establishments throughout the area. An 82-year old man who allegedly committed a robbery in Colorado and three other states was arrested in Arizona. And people are still pointing fingers and laughing at the attempted robber in Colorado who dropped his pants during the crime.
While it may be difficult not to laugh at that video, though, Colorado robbery charges are incredibly serious. If you want to avoid severe penalties, you need to put together the strongest defense strategy possible.
Doing this starts with a clear understanding of the law.
What Is Robbery in Colorado?
Before we dive into different defense strategies for robbery charges, let’s examine the definition of the crime itself. In Colorado, a person commits robbery when they “knowingly take anything of value from the person or presence of another by the use of force, threats, or intimidation.”
Again, the three elements of robbery are:
- The defendant took or attempted to take something of value from another person
- The defendant used force, threats, or intimidation to obtain the item(s) of value
- They knew what they were doing
How serious are the consequences of a conviction?
Robbery is a class 4 felony in Colorado. Convicted offenders may face up to six years behind bars and up to $500,000 in fines. Defendants who are charged with robbery can, however, walk away from court with reduced penalties or dropped charges if they are able to present an aggressive and appropriate defense strategy.
Colorado Robbery Defense Strategies
What are some of the most commonly used robbery defenses?
Theft Without Force, Threats, or Intimidation
Remember, the prosecution must prove all three elements of robbery. If the prosecution fails to prove all three of these elements, the charges may be dropped or reduced.
Say, for example, a defendant walks into a store and takes items without paying. The defendant simply picks the items up and walks out of the store without holding anyone up or telling anyone in the store that they are committing the crime. If there is a miscommunication about the nature of the theft, the defendant may end up with robbery charges.
Technically, this crime is simple theft. The defendant can work with their lawyer to show that there was no type of force, threats, or intimidation involved. The difference between robbery and theft could amount to years in prison. For most people in this situation, this defense strategy could be worth a shot.
Threats Did Not Involve a Deadly Weapon
Defendants may also face aggravated robbery charges. Colorado defines aggravated robbery as the act of robbery that also involves any of the following factors:
- A deadly weapon or threats, force, or intimidation that put victims in fear of serious bodily injury
- Intention to kill, maim, or wound victims if they resist the robbery
- Physical assault
- Possession of an object that resembles a deadly weapon
If you are charged with aggravated robbery, you might be able to disprove that any of these elements were present and fight for reduced charges. Aggravated robbery is a class 3 felony (and a class 2 felony if the stolen items included controlled substances). Reducing the charges from aggravated to simple robbery can help you cut potential penalties in half.
You Have an Alibi
Maybe you were identified as the robber, but you weren’t even close to the scene of the crime. All you may need is an alibi to walk away from the courtroom without any penalties. An alibi is an assertion that you were in a different place at the time of the crime. Receipts, eyewitnesses, or video footage can provide solid evidence of your alibi.
Duress is a defense strategy that can only be used in very specific circumstances, but also one that has proven very effective in the right cases. Essentially, it means that another party forced you to commit the robbery with threats or intimidation.
If you are able to effectively argue this, you may be able to get off using duress as a defense. In order to use this defense, you will have to provide solid evidence that you feared immediate bodily injury and the only way to escape that fear was to commit robbery.
Lack of Evidence
As you collect evidence that you did not commit the crime, prosecutors must gather evidence that you did commit the crime. Moreover, they have the burden of proof – all you need to do is create enough doubt that you did not commit the crime that you will be acquitted.
Which defense strategy is best for you? That depends on the specifics of your situation. Consult with a knowledgeable Colorado criminal lawyer to get started on a strong defense as soon as possible.
About the Author:
Since 2005, Jeffrey L. Weeden has been practicing criminal defense law in Colorado and has helped countless clients protect their rights and freedoms as a respected, caring, hard-nosed criminal defense attorney. Over the course of his career, Mr. Weeden’s work has been recognized in numerous ways, including being named to the Top 100 Trial Lawyers list by The National Trial Lawyers, earning a 10.0 “Suberb” Avvo rating, receiving Martindale-Hubbard’s highest peer review rating — AV Preeminent, and being asked to speak on several issues of interest to the legal community. Additionally, he is someone who cares deeply about his community and those in need, and is an active member of a number of professional legal organizations, including the Rocky Mountain Children’s Law Center and Law Firm Pro Bono Coordinators.