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MEMORANDUM TO: Nancy R. Daspit FROM: Susie Student DATE: May 25, 2008 RE: Robert Smith; robbery QUESTION PRESENTED (Two examples are shown; either form is correct) (1) Under Georgia law, is Smith guilty of robbery when he slipped a note to a bank teller but ran out of the bank before he received any money? (2) Whether Smith was guilty of robbery under Georgia law when he slipped a note to a bank teller but ran out of the bank before he received any money. BRIEF ANSWER Probably yes. To be guilty of robbery, a suspect must (a) have the intent to take something that does not belong to him, (b) take at least one affirmative action in furtherance of that intent, and (c) use force or intimidation in taking any action in furtherance of that unlawful intent. In this case, Smith intended to rob the bank because the note he passed to the teller ordered the teller to give him money. This note satisfies the intimidation element for robbery, and Smith’s act of passing the note to the teller was an affirmative action in furtherance of his unlawful intent. FACTS Robert Smith is a twenty-five year old man living in Atlanta, Georgia. On March 13, 2008, the police arrested Smith for robbery of the Bank of America branch on Peachtree Street. The bank teller said a man passed her a note saying, “I have a gun. Put all of the money from your cash drawer into a bag and pass it to me.” Before she could comply with these requirements, the man ran out of the bank. After being questioned, Smith came to the police station voluntarily and agreed to participate in a lineup. The teller identified Smith in this police lineup on March 16, 2008, and the police arrested him immediately after he was identified. Smith gave a statement to the police saying that he was at work and not in the bank that day; however, he is a telephone repairman, who goes on service calls at various locations. The police are still checking his story. Smith’s defense attorney has said that the crime of robbery was not committed by anyone because the suspect, whoever it was, ran out of the bank before receiving any money. My supervising attorney has asked me to research whether this argument is legally viable. Note: Because only the headings would have been at the bottom of the page, I moved both headings to the top of the next page to avoid a “hanging heading.” DISCUSSION I. Smith is probably guilty of robbery under Georgia law because his actions satisfied all of the elements of the crime. Under Georgia law, a person is guilty of robbery if he (a) has the intent to take something that does not belong to him, (b) takes at least one affirmative action in furtherance of that intent, and (c) uses force or intimidation in taking any action in furtherance of that unlawful intent. State v. Johnson, 685 S.E.2d 587, 589 (Ga. 1994). The prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant satisfies all three elements. Id. at 588. The law requires all three elements to ensure that both the mens rea and actus rea for a crime are satisfied. Id. Thus, a suspect must take some sort of action to accomplish the unlawful result, as well as have the intent to commit that unlawful act. Id. at 589. This memo will now analyze the intent, the action, and the force requirements to show that Smith probably is guilty of robbery. A. Smith had the requisite intent to commit robbery. To convict a suspect of robbery, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the suspect possessed the necessary intent to commit the crime of robbery. Johnson, 685 S.E.2d at 589. A suspect’s intent is demonstrated through his actions. Id. In Johnson, a suspect was accused of robbing a liquor store. The cashier said Johnson came into the store and asked for a specific, expensive bottle of wine. As the clerk walked to the back of the store to get the wine, Johnson followed him. When the clerk opened the door to the storage room, which also contained the safe, Johnson grabbed the clerk’s arm and tried to pin him to the ground. Johnson had a knife in his other hand. When the clerk fought back, Johnson ran out of the store. Later, when Johnson was questioned, he said he merely tripped and grabbed the clerk’s arm to keep from falling to the ground. He further said that he had opened his pocket knife to cut a thread on his jacket. Thus, Johnson argued, he did not have the requisite intent to commit a robbery. Id. at 589-590. On an evidentiary motion, however, the court held that actions can demonstrate a person’s intent. Id. at 591. The court stated that using after-the-fact statements to determine intent after the events had occurred was impossible because it was like trying to read someone’s mind and would inevitably result in the intent element never being satisfied. “No one would admit to an intent to commit a crime once they got away from a potentially criminal situation.” Id. The mere threat of a weapon is sufficient to demonstrate felonious intent. State v. Jones, 795 S.E.2d 435, 437 (Ga. 1995). (Now explain this thesis point, similar to the way the previous thesis point was explained above.) In this case, Smith demonstrated his criminal intent through his actions. The bank teller identified Smith as the person who handed her a note saying, “I have a gun. Put all of the money from your cash drawer into a bag and pass it to me.” While the teller was putting money in a bag, something caused Smith to change his mind, and he ran out of the bank. Even though Smith has said he was working, the bank teller identified Smith as the suspect who gave her the note. Similar to the defendant’s actions in Johnson, Smith’s actions demonstrate his intent to commit a robbery. Furthermore, the intent element is satisfied even though Smith never drew a gun or showed a gun to the teller. Similar to the defendant in the Jones case, who said he had a bomb in the gym bag he was carrying although he never showed it to the store manager, Smith’s note said he had a gun. As in Jones, this threat of a weapon satisfies the felonious intent element. Therefore, Smith’s actions demonstrate his intent to commit a robbery. B. Smith’s actions in going to the bank and passing the teller a note were affirmative actions that furthered his intent. You would now follow the CREAC paradigm to analyze this element. C. Smith’s note indicated he had a gun, which satisfies the intimidation element. You would now follow the CREAC paradigm to analyze this element. CONCLUSION Smith is probably guilty of robbery. He demonstrated the intent to rob the Bank of America by going to the bank and handing the teller a note indicating he had a gun and wanted money. In addition to showing intent, these actions started the process of a robbery, and thus were in furtherance of Smith’s criminal intent. Because the note indicated that Smith had a gun, the element of force or intimidation is also satisfied. Thus, unless Smith’s alibi indicates he really was at work on March 13, 2008, Smith is probably guilty of robbery.
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