15 Robbery - ROBBERY

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15 Robbery - ROBBERY Powered By Docstoc
					Topic 15
 Topic 15

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 Robbery is defined in the Theft Act 1968. According to s.8:

 ‘A person is guilty of robbery if he steals, and immediately
 before or at the time of doing so, he uses force on any
 person or puts or seeks to put any person in fear of being
 subjected to force.’
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                 Actus reus (1)
 Robbery is theft aggravated by the threat or use of force,
 so its actus reus overlaps with that for theft (appropriation
 of property belong to another) but has the additional
 requirement of force or threat of force on any person
 immediately before or at the time of stealing.
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                   Actus reus (2)
 In robbery, the appropriation does not have to be complete, as long
 as the defendant assumes one of the rights of the owner.
 Corcoran v Anderton (1980)
 One of the defendants hit the victim across the back, while the
 other pulled at her handbag. The victim screamed as the handbag
 fell to the ground and the defendants ran off empty-handed. The
 defendants were found guilty of robbery. The appropriation occurred
 when the defendant grabbed the bag. It did not matter that the bag
 was then dropped, as he had assumed at least one of the rights of
 the owner when he grabbed it. The theft was complete and
 therefore the charge was one of robbery rather than attempted
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                   Actus reus (3)
 The force does not need to be applied directly to the victim but can
 be applied to the property.
 R v Clouden (1987)
 The defendant wrenched a shopping bag from the victim’s hand.
 The Court of Appeal held that the force applied to the property was
 sufficient to amount to robbery.
 R v Dawson and James (1976)
 One of the defendants nudged the victim in the back so that he lost
 his balance. The other defendant took the victim’s wallet. The
 amount of force used was sufficient to be classed as a robbery. The
 word ‘force’ has been interpreted in the ordinary sense to the word.
 It does not require any violence.
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                   Actus reus (4)
 Continuing act
 One defendant can apply the force while the other defendant
 commits the theft. The theft can be seen as a continuing act.
 R v Hale (1978)
 The defendants forced their way into the victim’s house. One of
 the defendants went upstairs and stole a jewellery box while the
 other used force to tie up the victim. The Court of Appeal upheld
 their conviction for robbery, despite the fact that it was
 impossible to say whether the theft occurred at the same time
 as the force. The theft was a continuing act and therefore it was
 still happening when the victim was being tied up.
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                        Mens rea
 The mens rea of robbery is the mens rea of theft (dishonesty
 and intention to permanently deprive) plus the intentional or
 reckless application of force.
 R v Robinson (1977)
 The victim owed the defendant money. The defendant used a
 knife to threaten the victim. The victim dropped a £5 note that
 the defendant took as part payment of the £7 he was owed. The
 Court of Appeal quashed his conviction for robbery, as the jury
 at his trial should have been allowed to consider whether he was
 not acting dishonestly owing to the fact that he honestly
 believed that he had a right in law to take the money.
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                  Evaluation (1)
 The current law of robbery affords three main criticisms
 relating to the:
 • degree of force required
 • lack of any distinction between different types of robbery
 • large increase in the number of robberies being committed

 Only 3% of robberies result in a conviction and the majority
 of robberies are committed using a threat of force rather than
 actual force.
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                 Evaluation (2)
 Degree of force required
 The degree of force required to turn a theft into a robbery
 is slight, yet the difference in punishment ranges from a
 maximum of 7 years’ imprisonment for theft to life
 imprisonment for robbery.
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                 Evaluation (3)
 No distinction between different types of robbery
 Robbery is an indictable offence that must be tried at the
 Crown Court. Andrew Ashworth (2002) suggests that there
 should be two types of robbery: a lesser charge where the
 force is slight and a more serious charge where the force is
 greater. The less serious robberies could be tried at the
 Magistrates’ Court and the serious robberies would continue
 to be tried at the Crown Court. This would save the courts
 valuable time and money.
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                    Evaluation (4)
 Increase in robberies
 There has been a massive increase in the number of robberies
 that are reported to the police. This is especially true of incidents
 involving street muggings for mobile phones. In 2002, Lord
 Woolf encouraged the use of prison sentences for such offences.
 However, because of the low conviction rates and the fact that
 most defendants aged under 18 receive a community-based
 sentence for robbery, it is unlikely that there is much of a
 deterrent associated with such crimes.