The Law Firm of

Erin L.T. Ranney, PLLC

Attorney At Law

 
Phone:   (804) 318-1151  or (804) 212-5252
             
 

Taking criminal and traffic defense cases in Chesterfield, Colonial Heights, Richmond, Henrico, New Kent, Hanover, Caroline, Hopewell, Prince George, Dinwiddie, Petersburg, Emporia, Greensville, Sussex, and across Virginia

 

Providing counsel on family law matters, including divorce, custody, visitation, support, and adoption

 

Providing estate planning services to those in Virginia, including wills, trusts, power of attorney, and advanced medical directives

Criminal Law Spotlight - August 2017

Robbery and Carjacking

Robbery and Carjacking

 

  The criminal term of art "Robbery" has a very specific definition.  A lot of people will refer to the burglary of their home or vehicle as a "robbery".  That is not accurate unless the person was present and force was used.  What makes a robbery is the use of force or threat thereof.  Same with carjacking.  The slang phrase that something "got jacked" implies that something was stolen.  A true car jacking requires a use of force or threat of use of force.

 

18.2-58. How punished.

If any person commit robbery by partial strangulation, or suffocation, or by striking or beating, or by other violence to the person, or by assault or otherwise putting a person in fear of serious bodily harm, or by the threat or presenting of firearms, or other deadly weapon or instrumentality whatsoever, he shall be guilty of a felony and shall be punished by confinement in a state correctional facility for life or any term not less than five years.


18.2-58.1. Carjacking; penalty.

A. Any person who commits carjacking, as herein defined, shall be guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment for life or a term not less than fifteen years.

B. As used in this section, "carjacking" means the intentional seizure or seizure of control of a motor vehicle of another with intent to permanently or temporarily deprive another in possession or control of the vehicle of that possession or control by means of partial strangulation, or suffocation, or by striking or beating, or by other violence to the person, or by assault or otherwise putting a person in fear of serious bodily harm, or by the threat or presenting of firearms, or other deadly weapon or instrumentality whatsoever. "Motor vehicle" shall have the same meaning as set forth in  46.2-100.

C. The provisions of this section shall not preclude the applicability of any other provision of the criminal law of the Commonwealth which may apply to any course of conduct which violates this section.

(1993, c. 500.)

(Code 1950,  18.1-91; 1960, c. 358; 1966, c. 361; 1975, cc. 14, 15, 605; 1978, c. 608.)


Important points:

- What constitutes the crime of robbery is not defined in the statute, but rather it is defined by the common law.  Pierce v. Commonwealth, 205 Va. 528 (1964).

- Robbery is a "taking, with intent to deprive the owner permanently, of personal property, from his person or in his presence, against his will, by violence or intimidation."  Ayres v. Commonwealth, 157 Va. 897 (1932).

- Robbery is an offense against the person, not against property.  Whitley v. Cunningham, 205 Va. 251 (1964).

- Violence must be directed against the person of the victim, not the object being taken.  In the absence of physical contact or a struggle with the victim, there may be no violence to satisfy that element.  Henderson v. Commonwealth, 3017-99-1, 2000 LEXIS 809 (2000).

- Restraint in an attempted robbery may not consitute abduction.  A person cannot be guilty of both attempted robbery and abduction unless the detention of the person is seperate and apart from the robbery attempt, and not incidental to the robbery itself.  Bell v. Commonwealth, 0318-02-1, 2003 LEXIS 373, (2003).

- One of the key elements is that robbery must be accomplished by violence or putting in fear.  It must be fear of immediate injury to one's person.  Mason v. Commonwealth, 200 Va. 253 (1958).

- Violence requires that there is a physical touching or violation of the person.  This touching can be indirect but should not be associated with the taking.  There is a seperate crime for a theft from the person under Va. Code 18.2-95.  Henderson v. Commonwealth, 3017-99-1, 2000 LEXIS 809 (2000).

- The violence used does not need to great or cause actual harm to the victim.   Tapping the victim on the should may be sufficient.  Henderson v. Commonwealth.

- Robbery must have at it's core an intent to steal as the primary motivation.  The crime has to begin with an intent to steal something and take it away permanently.  Pierce v. Commonwealth, 205 Va. 528 (1964).

- The property does not have to belong to that vicitm, it merely needs to be in their possession at the time of the taking.  Hairston v. Commonwealth, 2 Va. App. 211 (1986).

- For a carjacking, taking possession of the keys, the person is in possession and conrol of the vehicle for the purposes of the statute.  However, violence or intimidation must have been used to take possession of the keys, and ergo the vehicle.   Bell v. Commonwealth, 21 Va. App. 693 (1996).

- Violence must be used in taking control of the vehicle, and it must be used before or at the same time of the taking of control.  Bell v. Commonwealth, 21 Va. App. 693 (1996).

 

Remember, robbery and carjacking are very serious crimes which carry lengthy sentences.  If you or someone you love has been charged with either of these crimes, or any crime in Virginia, call me today to set up an appointment for a free consultation.

Offense Facts


Type:
Felonies - Defined by statute.

Maximum punishment:
Life in prison.  The minimum for Robbery is 5 years, for carjacking it is 15 years.
 

Interesting Facts: There is a distinct but subtle difference between larceny from the person, and a robbery.  The facts of an individual case are going to determine which is the appropriate charge.