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Defenses to robbery in Pennsylvania

A previous blog post discussed robbery in Pennsylvania. Robbery is charged as a first, second or third-degree felony, depending on whether force was used and whether an injury was threatened or inflicted.

There are several defenses that one charged with robbery can assert. First, one may assert that no theft was committed. Theft is a requisite element, and one cannot be convicted of robbery if no theft occurred.

A theft is defined as the unauthorized taking of property with the intent to deprive them of the property permanently. If the taking was not unlawful -- for example, if the property was owned by the alleged robber, then their action may not constitute theft. In addition, if the alleged robber was given permission to take the property or did not intend to permanently deprive the owner of their property, a theft may not have taken place.

Second, a defense that the victim was not injured may be asserted if a defendant is charged with first or second-degree felony, which requires an infliction of bodily injury for conviction. This defense may not be asserted for third-degree robbery because infliction of bodily injury is not an element of the crime.

Third, a defendant may show that the victim was not placed in fear of injury. The crime of second-degree robbery requires that the victim be placed in fear of bodily injury. If a defendant can prove that the victim was not placed in fear of injury, they may be able to avoid conviction for second or third-degree robbery.

Finally, a defendant may assert defenses of intoxication, entrapment or duress. These affirmative defenses will establish that the defendant should not be found guilty even though they did commit the crime. Defendants will benefit from the counsel of an experienced attorney when asserting these defenses against charges of robbery; they will be discussed further in a future post.

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