A male-female pair were recently apprehended and charged in a string of armed robberies committed over the last couple of months here in the area. The first incident included the mugging of a local musician and his girlfriend near the 331 Club.
Each perpetrator is facing multiple robbery charges, and in the case of the musician and his girlfriend, statements were made that after the male perpetrator had already received what was demanded – the victims’ wallets – he shot the musician in the abdomen point blank. Court documents include testimony that he’d been run-over, as well. With that, additional charges are expected against both suspects.
If you are currently facing robbery or armed robbery charges and trying to understand them, or if you worry that you may be under investigation, this case is a great example for understanding Minnesota robbery statutes, the acts involved with each type of charge, possible defense strategies, and various outcomes if convicted.
Simple Vs. Aggravated: Minnesota Has No “Armed” Robbery
Minnesota law says that simple robbery is one person taking personal property by use of force, or by threat of force, directly from another person. Robbery in this state is therefore always at least “simple robbery.”
The legal definition of aggravated robbery includes the presence of a weapon, or any article that a victim might reasonably believe to be a dangerous weapon, in order to commit robbery. “Armed robbery” always falls under Minnesota’s definition of aggravated robbery.
Furthermore, each crime of aggravated robbery is classified into one of two categories: first or second degree aggravated robbery.
If it is implied that you physically possess a weapon or any article that can reasonably be taken for a weapon during a robbery, either by verbalizing it or if your actions suggest you do, the charge can be classified as second-degree robbery.
If you are actually armed or an object that is considered a dangerous weapon is proven to be present and/or bodily harm is inflicted on the victim, charges are automatically elevated to robbery in the first degree.
So, in our current day Bonnie & Clyde robbery example above, under Minnesota law, everything that happened from the time a gun was drawn made a huge difference in this case.
Due to the perpetrators’ alleged actions of shooting and running over one of the victims, what would have originally amounted to second degree aggravated robbery (or possibly even reduced charges of simple robbery) will now most likely carry the full weight of first degree aggravated robbery.
Different Defenses That Can Apply to Robbery or Armed Robbery in Minnesota
Regardless of whether a robbery is considered armed or not, the most common defense is mistake in identity. If you are accused, casting doubt on eyewitness testimony, combined with a strong alibi, make a solid defense. Going back to the original news story, had the Minneapolis perpetrators not been linked to more than a single robbery, it may have been argued in this way.
In your case, if there was a weapon, but it could be proven that you did not intend to use that weapon during the alleged robbery, then there is a chance to reduce charges from armed (or aggravated) robbery to robbery (or simple robbery).
However, in the case of the musician’s mugging, bodily harm was inflicted, so this defense strategy wouldn’t get you very far either.
Some other possible defenses include but are not limited to: duress, entrapment, and – in extremely rare cases – intoxication. The thing to remember is that the circumstances surrounding your case are absolutely unique, and a skilled Minnesota criminal attorney will be able to help you craft your strategy and navigate the court system based on the specifics of your situation.
What Penalties Minnesotans Can Expect If Charged with Robbery or Armed Robbery
Every robbery is considered a felony in Minnesota. Sentences can carry lengthy prison time, hefty fines, and in some cases both. You may be facing up to 20 years in a correctional facility or fines reaching $35,000 per charge depending on the verdict of your case.
First-degree aggravated robbery equals up to 20 years in prison and a $35,000 fine maximum. Second-degree aggravated robbery can cost up to 15 years and $30,000 in fines. A sentence for simple robbery can reach 10 years with a $20,000 fine.
In sum, the only real difference between robbery and armed robbery in Minnesota is whether or not a weapon was involved. This fact alone will affect the charges you face, the type of defense you need, and the way a court tries and sentences your case.
About the Author:
A former prosecutor and lifelong Minnesotan, Christian Peterson has handled hundreds of criminal cases from both sides of the aisle since he began practicing law in 2006, as well as a wide variety of family law matters. This background allows him to look at situations from all angles and anticipate which arguments the other side may use, increasing his clients’ chances of success. His work has been recognized by the American Society of Legal Advocates, the National Academy of Family Law Attorneys, and National Trial Lawyers, and he has a perfect 10/10 rating from Avvo.