Robbery is punished as a felony in the state of Tennessee. Robbery is a serious theft crime defined by T.C.A. § 39-13-401 as a crime committed when a person knowingly steals property directly from someone’s person through violence or by putting the victim in fear.
However, robbery is not the same as theft, which does not involve violence or stealing directly from another individual. Robbery is also commonly confused with burglary, which is committed through entering a building or structure to commit a theft or felony inside.
Who can be Charged with Robbery in Tennessee?
In Tennessee, you can be charged with robbery when the stolen property was intentionally or knowingly taken directly from another individual’s person, immediate presence, or control, and as long as the crime involved violence or threats of violence.
The words “intentionally” and “knowingly” play a crucial part in robbery cases. In Tennessee, the prosecution must prove that the defendant intentionally or deliberately acted to take property from another individual through violence or by putting them in fear.
When establishing that the defendant acted knowingly, the prosecution must prove that the defendant acted with knowledge of committing a robbery. Robbery is a Class C felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a maximum of $10,000 in fines.
Aggravated Robbery vs. Especially Aggravated Robbery
Tennessee law also recognizes two circumstances when robbery can be elevated to “aggravated robbery” or “especially aggravated robbery.” A person commits aggravated robbery, a Class B felony punishable by up to 30 years in prison, if during the crime:
- The person used a gun, knife, or another deadly weapon or displayed any object that led the victim to reasonably believe it was a deadly weapon; or
- The victim suffered severe bodily injury.
The crime of robbery is further elevated to especially aggravated robbery if the defendant used a deadly weapon, and the alleged victim suffered serious bodily injury. Meanwhile, especially aggravated robbery is a Class A felony punishable by imprisonment of up to 60 years.
Defenses to Robbery Charges in Tennessee
Robbery is a felony offense and can permanently damage your criminal record and reputation, among other consequences. That is why you need a robbery defense attorney knowledgeable in Tennessee criminal law to pick the most suitable defense strategy.
In Tennessee, defendants facing robbery charges can use the following defense strategies:
- Innocence. The prosecution must prove that the defendant committed the crime of robbery without any reasonable doubt. With a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer, the defendant can avoid being convicted by challenging the evidence presented by the prosecutor to cast reasonable doubt on the prosecution’s case.
- Intoxication. While intoxication itself is not generally recognized as a defense to prosecution in Tennessee, it can be admissible as evidence to negate a culpable mental state in order to reduce a charge. Under C.A. § 39-11-503, intoxication can be either voluntary or involuntary. Involuntary intoxication can be a defense to prosecution under certain circumstances.
- Duress. Under C.A. § 39-11-504, duress can be used as a complete defense to robbery charges if the defendant can prove that they were forced by a third party to commit the offense by threatening them with either bodily injury or death.
- Entrapment. Under C.A. § 39-11-505, the defendant may be able to avoid being convicted if they were pressured by someone else into committing the robbery that they would not have committed on their own. However, the entrapment defense strategy is very difficult to prove in Tennessee.
Contact our Manchester robbery defense lawyers at Law Offices of Burch & Lockhart to discuss your defense strategy. Call at 931-723-7997 to evaluate your case.