Can You Be Convicted of Robbery With a Weapon in Florida When All You Had Was a Shotgun Barrel?

Legal News GavelEveryone is entitled to receive justice, whether they are perfectly innocent or less so. The not guilty are entitled to acquittals, and the guilty are entitled to punishments that fit their crimes. To this end, it is important to ensure that criminal defendants are not charged with (and convicted of) more severe crimes than the actual facts dictate. A skilled Florida gun crime lawyer can help you make sure that the result of your criminal case is a just one.

One recent example of a case in which the facts didn’t support the crime was the trial of Phillip. One night in Orange County, Phillip waved a man over to his car, and, when the man approached, Phillip brandished what looked like a double-barrel shotgun. He demanded that the man give him his wallet, and the victim complied. Police caught up to Phillip later, and, when searching his car, they found the double-barrel of a shotgun. What the police did not find, however, were any other parts to a shotgun. No receiver. No stock. No firing mechanism. Just the barrel.

The accused man admitted that he robbed the victim but denied that he used a real gun in the process. The state, however, still charged Phillip with the crime of robbery with a weapon in violation of Section 812.13(2)(b) of the Florida Statutes. At the conclusion of the trial, Phillip was convicted.

Phillip appealed, and he won. The key to the accused man’s success was not whether or not he had committed a crime. He admitted to police that he robbed the victim. (By the way, it is almost never a good idea to make admissions or any kind of potentially incriminating statements to police without first consulting counsel.) The crux of Phillip’s case was whether or not he had committed the crime that the prosecution charged.

There are several types of weapons that can serve as a basis for a conviction of this crime in Florida. They include “any dirk, knife, metallic knuckles, slungshot, billie, tear gas gun, chemical weapon or device, or other deadly weapon except a firearm or a common pocketknife, plastic knife, or blunt-bladed table knife.” Thus, to be guilty of this crime, one has to commit a robbery and use one of the weapons in that list or else use a “deadly weapon.”

Therefore, can you be convicted of robbery with a weapon when you only have a shotgun barrel? Under facts like these, the court said the answer was “no.” Phillip’s shotgun barrel wasn’t one of those weapons in the list. It also, in the appeals court’s opinion, wasn’t a deadly weapon. A shotgun barrel could be a deadly weapon if the perpetrator used it like a club or a bludgeon. Phillip, however, never swung the barrel; he simply used it to create the illusion that he had an actual double-barrel shotgun in the car. The way this accused man used the barrel was not a way that made the barrel a deadly weapon, and Phillip was entitled to an acquittal on the robbery with a weapon charge and re-sentencing for simple robbery. This was a significant difference because simple robbery is a lesser-degree felony, and the potential range of sentences is far less severe than those for robbery with a weapon.

If you or a loved one is facing criminal charges, one way to maximize your chances of receiving a just outcome is to make sure you have a skilled and determined advocate on your side. The experienced Tampa Bay gun crime attorneys at Blake & Dorsten, P.A. have been providing their clients with zealous criminal defense counsel for many years. Our experienced attorneys are ready to discuss your case with you. Call us today at (727) 286-6141 to schedule your FREE initial consultation and get the answers and the reliable assistance you need.

More blog posts:

Treasure Island man breaks into garage, brews himself some coffee, Tampa Bay Criminal Defense Lawyer Blog, Jan. 31, 2018

When Details Matter: How A Misstatement of the Charged Crime in Jury Instructions Led to a Reversal of a Florida Conviction, Tampa Bay Criminal Defense Lawyer Blog, Oct. 23, 2017

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