Robbery is a serious offense, one because of the gravity of danger that goes along with the charge, and because of the amount of time that a person who is convicted of robbery may face if they are convicted of this charge.  However, sometimes others get blamed for a crime that they did not commit, and still other times people make up a story that they have been robbed altogether.

In early May of 2016, a New Jersey man was charged with filing a false police report with the State Police. The man responsible for this fanciful report was a Bass River Township man named Michael Cohen. Mr. Cohen called the police to report that he had been robbed at gunpoint by a black man in his mid to late 30’s with a nose ring and an apparent lovely British accent. Mr. Cohen claimed that this individual stole $150 in cash from him in front of a Bass River bus stop before driving off with a second assailant.  The police engaged in a furious search for this individual, but were soon frustrated in their efforts because you cannot catch a man who does not exist.  Police soon discovered this ruse when discrepancies in Mr. Cohen’s story began to emerge. After some questioning, Mr. Cohen admitted that he had made up the whole story. The New Jersey State Police even poked fun at the story citing Mr. Cohen’s imagination as worthy of such natural wonders as Stonehenge.

However, Mr. Cohen’s story brings up a good point and highlights a possible defense to a robbery charge. Simply, you have the wrong guy. When there has been a robbery, the police are often eager to make an arrest.  However, this can lead to the wrong person being arrested for a crime that they did not commit.  Innocence in these cases is the basis for the court to dismiss all charges.

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In any criminal prosecution, the prosecution who represents the state has the burden of proving that the defendant committed the crime in question beyond a reasonable doubt. Because of this particular burden of proof that the state must meet, an innocent defendant can avoid a guilty verdict by attacking the prosecution’s evidence or by offering their own evidence that refutes or contradicts the prosecution’s case.  One of the most effective ways for a person to prove that they are not responsible for a robbery in question is to prove that they had an alibi, such as they were at work at the time, or they were not in the state on the date that the robbery occurred.  In addition, a skilled defense attorney can challenge eyewitness identifications. In the case of Mr. Cohen, it may have seemed at first that his detailed explanation could lead a reasonable jury to find that a defendant in front of them who matched the description was responsible for the robbery.  Mr. Cohen’s detailed descriptions that produced a masterful display of police sketching highlights the importance of challenging witness identification to establish innocence.

What are the Defenses to Robbery in New Jersey?

As noted above, in order for a jury to find that a person is guilty of robbery the prosecution must set forth enough evidence to prove that the person in front of the court committed the robbery beyond a reasonable doubt.  While innocence is always the first defense that a person will claim, there are other defenses that are applicable to robbery that an Atlantic City criminal defense attorney may be able to employ. Some of these defenses include:

  • Intoxication – If a defendant can use intoxication as a defense to a robbery charge. New Jersey recognizes that voluntary intoxication is a defense to a purposeful or knowing crime, but not to a crime requiring a mens rea of recklessness. State v. Mauricio, 117 N.J. 402, 418 (1990). Intoxication from the use of illegal drugs “has the same legal consequences as intoxication from alcohol[.]” State v. Sette, 259 N.J. Super. 156, 173 (App. Div.), certif. denied, 130 N.J.597 (1992). The defense requires a showing of such “prostration of faculties” as to deprive the defendant of the capability of acting purposely or knowingly, an “extremely high level” of intoxication. State v. Cameron, 104 N.J. 42, 54, 57-58 (1986).
  • Duress – Duress is another defense that an attorney may be able to employ.  Under 2C:2-9, it is an affirmative defense that the actor engaged in the conduct charged to constitute an offense because he was coerced to do so by the use of, or a threat to use, unlawful force against his person or the person of another, which a person of reasonable firmness in his situation would have been unable to resist.
  • Entrapment – If someone forces or pushes a defendant into committing a robbery that they would not have committed otherwise, the defendant could have an entrapment defense. Entrapment defenses are notoriously difficult to prove, but if the defendant can show that the person who was robbed somehow instigated the event solely to bring charges against the defendant, then they could argue that the victim entrapped them into committing the crime.

There may be other defenses that a skilled attorney can employ if you have been charged with robbery. It is important that you realize that you do not have to face the court system alone, and that there are legal defenses that can be employed on your behalf.

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If You Were Charged with Robbery, an Atlantic City Criminal Lawyer May Be Able To Help

Dedicated and aggressive, an Atlantic City robbery defense attorney offers results-oriented representation from the outset.  We serve clients throughout Atlantic County and Cape May County in addition to Atlantic City, Pleasantville, Egg Harbor Township, Cape May Court House, Wildwood, Absecon, Mays Landing and Somers Point.  Contact an Atlantic City criminal defense lawyer about your case today by calling (609) 616-4956.  We are available seven days a week, 24 hours a day, including holidays.