In Massachusetts, the robbery statutes are found in General Laws Chapter 265, §17 and §19. In general, the Commonwealth must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant used the exertion of actual or constructive force against another with the intention of forcing that person to part with his or her property.
The penalties for unarmed or armed robbery are harsh – imprisonment in the state prison for life or any term of years. Some armed robbery convictions have mandatory minimums.
Armed robbery cases are identification cases. In other words, the District Attorney’s key evidence comes from an alleged victim or a witness viewing a photo array, lineup or making an in person identification. As is in all identification cases, there are certain procedural safeguards that have been put in place by both the U.S. Supreme Court and the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts to make sure the identification was not impermissibly suggestive, that the defendant received due process, and that his or her rights were preserved.
Robbery cases present special challenges to prosecutors. Most robberies happen after it gets dark at night, or very early in the morning. If there are witnesses, they may be unclear as to what they have seen. When people are robbed, they have a higher than normal level of anxiety. They may have trouble identifying the person who robbed them with complete confidence; if there’s any reasonable doubt, they’ll mistakenly identify someone who was not the wrongdoer.
Additionally, liquor stores, grocery stores, supermarkets, convenient stores, banks, and bank machine service centers use sophisticated video cameras and other surveillance equipment. Surveillance camera evidence is often grainy and unclear.
Criminal Defense Attorney Kristen Bonavita has experience as a prosecutor, and Criminal Attorney Bonavita’s familiarity with the investigation of crime scenes, the location and examination of witnesses, and the review of police reports can help develop your strongest defense. When it comes to handling identification cases, she will file and argue motions to suppress identification evidence. A successful motion to suppress identification may leave the Commonwealth with no case against you, forcing the prosecutor to dismiss the charges.
Robbery Cases Often Involve Multiple Charges
Drug and narcotics charges often accompany drug store robbery charges, and an armed robbery charge may bring guns and weapons charges. Since police must follow certain procedures when they conduct a search for a weapon, if law enforcement failed to abide by these procedures, Attorney Bonavita’s Motion to Suppress the evidence of a weapon could force the Commonwealth to reduce an armed robbery charge to either unarmed robbery or even larceny. An even better result would be that forcing the prosecutor to dismiss the charges altogether.
Discovery motions are critical for defending armed robbery cases. Early on, it is important to preserve evidence that might be lost, such as tapes from surveillance cameras. Criminal Defense Attorney Kristen Farrell Bonavita – always motivated to file meaningful motions – know that preserving evidence can make the difference between winning or losing a case.
If you are facing charges for Robbery in Newburyport, Salem, Boston, Amesbury, Salisbury, Lawrence, Ipswich, or any town in the Essex, Suffolk, or Middlesex counties in Massachusetts, call Criminal Attorney Bonavita immediately at 978-376-6746 or email her with your case information!