Theft and robbery are often thrown together in the public’s minds as the same offenses. They are defined differently by criminal law, however, and a recent Baltimore County case provides a reason to discuss that point.
In 2006, a man reportedly entered a business and told a clerk simply, “Don’t say nothing.” He walked away with money from the store but was ultimately apprehended and charged with theft, robbery and assault. Then, he was convicted of the charges and nearly on his way to prison. Recently, the Maryland Court of Appeals pumped some hope back into this criminal case.
According to The Baltimore Sun, the majority in the appeals court ruled that the trial system thus far has made a mistake in treating this case so harshly. A robbery charge is based on a threat or act of harm against a person, whereas theft is the stealing of property. As you can tell, they are different matters that shouldn’t be so immediately paired.
In this defendant’s case, he has a criminal history, meaning that a conviction including a robbery count would send him to prison for 25 years. A significant portion of the defendant’s life is on the line, making it crucial that he gets a fair chance in court.
The appeals court’s recent ruling gives him another chance. The majority believes that the incident should not be classified as a robbery or violent crime. No violence occurred; nor was there any real, reasonable threat that violence was about to occur before the clerk gave the suspect the money. He showed no weapon and never mentioned that he had or would use a weapon.
The theft case will be tried again in Baltimore County. This case is a perfect example of why fighting for justice as a criminal defendant with an aggressive defense attorney is so completely worth the fight.
The Baltimore Sun: “When a robbery is not a robbery,” Oct. 25, 2011
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