An armed robbery charge is a serious accusation, one that includes several important details that can be easily overlooked. Anyone facing such a charge in the state of Georgia should familiarize themselves with these details, including how acute the long-term effects of a sentence can be. Not only could you possibly have a long-term prison sentence to contend with, but some impacts go far beyond sentencing, affecting your personal life for years afterward.
What follows is a brief primer on what an armed robbery charge in Georgia, both what it is and what you can expect if found guilty.
Armed Robbery Laws in Georgia Explained
In Georgia, armed robbery refers to a specific crime. It happens when someone takes another person’s belongings directly from them or from very close proximity, using a weapon that can cause harm or something that looks like such a weapon. The main intention behind armed robbery is to steal someone else’s property by threatening or using force.
For example, let’s say there’s a convenience store. If a person enters the store, pulls out what appears to be a gun, and demands money from the cashier, it would be considered armed robbery. Even if the “gun” turns out to be a fake or a replica, the act of using it to intimidate and steal makes it a serious offense under Georgia law.
The purpose of this law is to discourage and prevent individuals from using weapons or similar objects to commit theft and to ensure the safety of people and their belongings. Several key terms within the law would benefit from more explanation.
Offensive Weapon: In legal terms, this is simply any object which is used with the intent to injure, kill or otherwise harm another person. Because of this, there is a wide range of objects which can be considered offensive weapons, ranging from a blade to a club or even otherwise innocuous objects such as bricks, glass bottles, etc.
Replica, Article, or Device: While these terms mean different things, in the context of this law they refer to any object which may be harmless on its own but resembles one. This could include prop knives, toy weapons, or anything which could be used to deceive another into believing they are threatened.
It’s worth noting that the law carves out a separate section for armed robbery with replicas or where the presence of an actual weapon was only implied, referring to it as “robbery by intimidation” and stipulating that it is a less severe offense.
What are the Consequences of an Armed Robbery Conviction?
The Georgia law spells out sentencing fairly straightforwardly. If someone is found guilty of committing armed robbery, they can face severe penalties. The possible punishments include the death penalty, life imprisonment, or a prison sentence ranging from a minimum of ten years to a maximum of twenty years.
Essentially, a full charge of armed robbery will carry a minimum mandatory sentence of 10 years, along with financial penalties that can range from $1,000-$10,0000. Certain aspects can affect these sentencing guidelines. Armed robbery of a pharmacy carries a minimum sentence of 15 years, and armed robbery that results in death can potentially result in the death penalty.
At the lower end of sentencing guidelines is a charge of “simple robbery.” In cases where the robbery occurred without a weapon or serious harm to the victim, the charge can be reduced to simple robbery, carrying fines between $1,000-$10,000 and a prison sentence between 1 and 20 years. Again, various factors can affect sentencing. If the victim is 65 years of age or older, the resulting prison term will be between 5-20 years. If the value of the stolen items is below $500, the simple robbery charge will be considered a misdemeanor as opposed to a felony.
This is an important distinction because felony convictions have consequences that go far beyond simply a fine and a prison sentence. Even after those convicted have served their time, having a felony on their record, particularly for a crime of violence, can limit their ability to secure employment, receive certifications or licenses, and secure loans or housing.
In the state of Georgia, a felony conviction could impact your civil liberties, restricting your right to vote during your prison sentence, making ownership of a firearm more difficult (if not impossible), and making it more difficult to gain custody rights, public benefits, or travel.
What are Some Ways to Defend Against Robbery Charges?
No two cases are alike, and your attorney will want to investigate the specific details thoroughly before recommending a course of action, but there are several ways to defend against charges of armed robbery. If defended properly through preparation and investigation, it is possible to have charges reduced or dismissed altogether. Some potential defenses include:
Absence of Intent: This defense strategy relies on showing that the accused either did not mean to commit the crime of theft or was not in a mental state that would allow them to commit the crime.
Misidentification: There could be doubts about the true identity of the person who committed the crime, which an attorney could use to argue that the accused was falsely or mistakenly identified.
A Strong Alibi: If the defense can demonstrate that the accused was not present when and where the robbery took place, it can create doubts as to their involvement in the crime.
Operating Under Duress: In some cases, the defense would be able to show that the accused was operating under coercion or threat to their safety or the safety of others and committed the act against their own free will.
Insufficient Evidence: The case laid out by the prosecution could be based on questionable witness testimony, debatable forensic evidence, or unclear surveillance footage, leaving each piece of evidence vulnerable to a challenge by the defense.
Police Errors: Any procedural mistakes by law enforcement, from the initial arrest to mishandling of evidence and any misconduct in between, can be used by a defense attorney to show that the accused’s rights had been violated and that certain evidence should be excluded. Additionally, if law enforcement did not uphold your constitutional rights, evidence can be excluded from court and not used against you.
Don’t Wait – Speak to an Attorney Now
The most valuable things you can give yourself when facing a charge of armed robbery are time and investment. Time can make all the difference in seeing charges reduced or dismissed, so the sooner you reach out to an attorney the better. With sufficient time, your defense attorney can do more to protect your rights, even preventing charges from being filed. The sooner they can begin looking into the evidence and mounting a defense, the greater the outcome you’ll see.
And that’s where an investment in yourself can help prove your innocence. It may be tempting to plead guilty in exchange for a reduced sentence or rely on a public defender to fight for you. But ultimately, the best investment you can make is in a skilled attorney who will undertake the hard work necessary to secure your freedom and allow you to resume your normal life with your reputation and dignity intact.
The Busbee Law Group Difference
Success or failure at the bargaining table or in a court of law comes down to one thing: preparation.
At Busbee Law Group, we make preparation our greatest priority, keeping our caseloads low so that every client gets our utmost attention. It all starts with our initial case evaluation, undertaken at no charge to you, where we work with you one on one to gain a complete understanding of your case.
From there, our investigators swing into action. With a team that includes a former GBI officer, we review every scrap of evidence, conducting a thorough investigation, discovering inconsistencies in the case against you, and bringing anything to light which will prove your side of the story.
They work hand-in-hand with our attorneys as we create a comprehensive defensive strategy to help secure the best outcome. This collaborative approach allows us to walk up to the negotiating table or into the courtroom better prepared than the other side. And our winning track record shows that this preparation works, helping us give our clients back their freedom.
Being charged with armed robbery does not mean you are guilty and will go to jail. There are numerous ways to reduce or beat the charges against you. Scheduling a free case evaluation with The Busbee Law Group will help you realize that there are many options available to you that you may have not considered, which will help you sleep better at night until your case is favorably resolved.