The Verdict - The Lombardi Law Firm Blog
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There have been many news stories this week about "robbery." Robbery is a term that is used rather loosely in the general public, but has a specific term in an Iowa courtroom. For example, if someone has a lawnmower stolen from their yard, upon discovery they yell "I was robbed!" This is not a robbery. When the Iowa Chops said they were leaving town, we all said "we were robbed!" Of course, that is not a robbery.
According to news reports, there were some Git-N-Go stores that were all "robbed" a couple nights ago. In a couple of the incidents, the clerks said guns were displayed and money was stolen. If proven beyond a reasonable doubt to a unanimous jury, this is the classic definition of robbery. In at least one incident though the alleged suspects were nothing more than mere opportunists and grabbed cash out of the register while the clerk was away without any threats or weapons. This is not robbery, and is nothing more than a misdemeanor theft. When caught, however, their charges will need to be negotiated.
In another incident, Pegkella Dameron is charged with robbing a Kum-N-Go because she allegedly threw a punch after being confronted for stealing some candy and tea. If convicted, she'll go to prison for a long time. The legislature has considered changing this law so that people like Pegkella that commit an assault during a simple shoplifting event would not be going to prison, but thus far they have not changed the law. At present, this may meet the current Iowa definition of robbery.
Darnell Ramey is charged with robbing a Wells Fargo concession stand during a Coldplay concert. Apparently there were others involved, according to the Des Moines Register. The Register does not make it clear what involvement or charges the others are facing. This case will involve an analysis of accomplice responsibility and a determination will need to be made of each person's role in this incident.
Often times, robbery charges in Iowa should be nothing more than misdemeanor thefts. Robbery is a forcible felony requiring either a 25 year or 10 year prison sentence depending upon the level, so be careful the next time you say someone robbed you. There are some specific defenses to these charges.