Robbery under N.J.S.A. 2c:15-1

robberyBayonne cops charged a liquor store patron with robbery shortly before the New Year began. The liquor store matron told police she saw the patron shoplifting three bottles of vodka, per the news. Therefore, she demanded he pay for it. But instead of paying, he allegedly pushed her repeatedly. Before leaving the, however, he dropped the bottles.

And in unrelated news, an unidentified man with a knife entered Bob’s News Stand in Westville, New Jersey. Subsequently, the suspect cut the store clerk’s hand with the knife, according to nj dot com. Consequently, police suspect this individual of robbery, according to the news.

Robbery Definitions

Bodily Injury means physical pain, illness, or any impairment of physical condition. N.J.S.A. 2c:11-1(a).

Serious Bodily Injury means bodily injury which creates a substantial risk of death or which causes serious, permanent disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ. N.J.S.A. 2c:11-1(b).

Deadly weapon means any firearm or other weapon, device, instrument, material or substance, whether animate or inanimate, which in the manner it is used or intended to be used, is known to be capable of producing death or serious bodily injury or which in the manner it is fashioned would lead the victim reasonably to believe it to be capable of producing death or serious bodily injury. N.J.S.A. 2c:11-1(c).

Robbery, N.J.S.A. 2c:15-1

Pursuant to New Jersey law, a person is guilty of second degree robbery if, in the course of committing a theft, he:

  1. Inflicts bodily injury or uses force upon another; or
  2. Threatens another with or purposely puts him in fear of immediate bodily injury; or
  3. Commits or threatens immediately to commit any crime of the first or second degree.

Almost Any Little Amount of Force Will Do

One might mistakenly view robbery as a theft and a simple assault. Indeed, robbery and simple assault require proof of bodily injury. Unlike simple assault, however, the State can file robbery charges based on the use of force without bodily injury.

Nevertheless, case law rejects the proposition that “any little amount of force will do.” For example, a light bump to distract a pickpocket victim is not enough “force” to prove robbery. Thus, a theft and almost any little amount of force will do to charge an individual with robbery.

Although other distinctions apply to the robbery and simple assault statute, this post does not discuss them.

Theft, N.J.S.A. 2c:20-3

Theft under the law of New Jersey occurs if a person “unilaterally takes, or exercises unlawful control over, movable property of another.” Additionally, the individual must act with the purpose to deprive the owner of his property. N.J.S.A. 2C:20-3.

“…in the course of committing a theft…” By the Robbery statute, an act is “included in the phrase ‘in the course of committing a theft’ if it occurs in an attempt to commit theft or in immediate flight after the attempt or commission.”

Sentencing Exposure

A person charged with Robbery under N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1 faces a second degree crime.

Furthermore, the crime may be graded as a first degree offense if in the course of committing the theft the actor attempts to kill anyone, or purposely inflicts or attempts to inflict serious bodily injury, or is armed with, or uses or threatens the immediate use of a deadly weapon.

First degree crimes are punishable by ten years to twenty years New Jersey State Prison. Second degree crimes are punishable by five years to ten years New Jersey State Prison.

Additionally, the No Early Release Act (NERA) applies to robbery. Indeed, NERA requires prisoners to serve a mandatory minimum sentence. Specifically, anyone convicted of robbery must serve at least 85% of the sentence before becoming eligible for parole. N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2.

Did the cops charge you with Robbery?

New Jersey Criminal Lawyer Michael A. Smolensky, Esquire, knows how to protect his clients. Mr. Smolensky can provide confidential consultations in all cases involving Robbery under N.J.S.A. 2c:15-1.