A previous blog post discussed several defenses to robbery in the state, including that no theft was committed, the taking was not unlawful, the alleged robber received the owner’s permission to take the property or that the alleged robber did not intend to permanently deprive the owner of their property. Defendants may also assert defenses to second or third-degree robbery, such as there was no infliction of bodily injury or the alleged victim was not placed in fear of injury by threats of violence, use of a weapon or otherwise.
In addition, a defendant may assert three main affirmative defenses, which establish that although the defendant did commit the crime, he or she should not be held accountable. The first one is intoxication. The defense of voluntary intoxication is not allowed in many states, and it will rarely excuse criminal conduct under Pennsylvania law. However, involuntary intoxication may excuse defendants’ criminal behavior, but they must prove that they were intoxicated against their will.
The second affirmative defense is entrapment. The defendant must show that someone pushed them to commit the crime, which the defendant would otherwise not have committed the crime.
Finally, defendants may claim they were under duress. Defendants must show that they were forced by threat of immediate death or bodily injury to commit the crime. If the defendant did not have a sufficient level of fear of harm or was able to avoid committing the robbery without risking death or bodily injury, this defense may not be successful.
Defendants charged with robbery in Pennsylvania are presumed innocent until proven guilty. They will benefit from the counsel of an experienced attorney who can provide knowledgeable advice regarding whether to assert any defenses or affirmative defenses to their charges.