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Is the threat of force a prerequisite to a robbery charge?

“Help, I was robbed!”

The term “robbery” is bandied about with great regularity in both television crime dramas and in real life.

What exactly does it mean?

You come home from a vacation to find that a window is broken and your television missing. Were you robbed?

Here’s another scenario. You are approached on the street by a stranger telling you to turn over your wallet. You do so. Were you robbed?

In fact, many people use the term robbery to describe what is actually another criminal act, such as burglary. Burglary, for example, most aptly describes the first scenario denoted above involving the stolen television. It does not require the presence of a victim at the time a crime is committed.

Robbery does. As noted in an online overview of robbery, that criminal act is immediately distinguished by “the presence of a victim who suffers actual injury, or is threatened with harm.”

Thus, robbery might be an apt description for the latter scenario described above.

But only maybe. A robbery victim must suffer an actual injury or, conversely, have a reasonable belief that he or she is confronting the possibility of harm in the event of noncompliance with a perceived demand.

In other words, robbery can be a bit tricky. As the above-cited overview states, an act of robbery generally consists of an intent to steal property from another person coupled with the actual taking of that property, while that person is physically present and either being threatened with actual violence or fearing imminent force.

There are a lot of variables in that description. How slight can a threat of force be and still be termed robbery? What if an alleged assailant is young and diminutive in stature and the person alleging robbery robust and physically imposing?

Victims of robbery -- especially those where weapons overtly featured -- obviously need to be protected by the criminal justice system.

So, too, though, do individuals facing robbery charges, especially in cases where facts are murky and criminal intent less than clear.

Robbery is a serious criminal charge in North Carolina and everywhere else across the country, namely, a felony that can result in a lengthy prison term for a defendant. A proven criminal defense attorney can closely investigate a robbery charge and provide strong representation to any person alleged to have committed robbery.

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