If convicted of armed robbery in Illinois, you could face years of jail time, thousands in fines, and a criminal record of violent crime that will affect nearly every aspect of your life long after your sentence is served.
However, proving a defendant guilty of armed robbery is often difficult for the prosecution – especially if the defendant has a solid alibi, or if certain pieces of evidence (for example, surveillance footage) are not present.
Several general strategies are usually used for armed robbery defenses. The defense may attempt to convince the jury that the prosecution’s evidence does not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the offense in question.
Defendants can also admit to performing the act in question, but argue that certain circumstances negate culpability for the offense. These are collectively known as affirmative defenses.
The following specific defenses are commonly used in armed robbery cases. The appropriate defense for your case will depend on the specific circumstances surrounding the alleged offense, as well as the evidence against you.
Many cases of mistaken identity occur in the US every year. Sadly, the defendant is wrongfully convicted in many of these cases.
Do not let this happen to you.
A common cause of mistaken identity is eyewitness misidentification. When picking a suspect out of a lineup, a witness will usually pick the person who looks closest to the one they saw rather than saying that no one in the lineup looks like the perpetrator.
Put another way, they’d rather blame the wrong person than say that none of them are correct.
This becomes even more complex in the case of violent crimes such as armed robbery, because adrenaline often compromises the memories of victims or witnesses. Furthermore, witnesses and victims are often highly coercible after a traumatic event.
To argue mistaken identity, the defense will generally cast reasonable doubt on witness testimony. Even if evidence was found in the defendant’s home or car, the defense may argue that this evidence could have been left in these locations by anyone else who has access.
Generally, these arguments are accompanied by a solid alibi attempting to show that the defendant was somewhere else at the time of the alleged offense.
Lack of Evidence
In order to convict a defendant of armed robbery, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that they committed the offense in question. This is known as the burden of proof.
Evidence for offenses such as armed robberies can be circumstantial, or hinge on witness testimony, which (as we touched on above) is notoriously error-prone.
To make a lack of evidence defense, the defense will cast reasonable doubt on the evidence that the prosecution has against the defendant, and argue that conclusive evidence proving the defendant’s guilt is not present.
Entrapment is an affirmative defense in which the defendant admits that he or she committed the act, but did so due to the coercion of a third party.
Why does this matter? Because if a third party convinced the defendant to commit an offense that he or she would otherwise not have committed, the constitutes entrapment.
However, if the defendant intended to commit robbery at the outset, this defense is not valid, regardless of the actions of third parties.
No Property Was Taken
In order for the offense of robbery to take place, some form of property must actually be taken. If the prosecution cannot prove that some kind of property was taken, this is not considered robbery.
However, if the defendant used physical force or the threat of force in commission of the offense, he or she will likely still face assault charges.
Lack of Intent
In order to commit robbery, the defendant must intentionally deprive the victim of property with the use of force. If certain factors made the defendant unable to form the proper intent, this could be a viable defense.
If the defendant was forced to commit the alleged robbery by a third party under the threat of serious physical harm or death to the defendant or his or her loved ones, a duress offense may apply.
However, duress is often difficult to prove in the crime of robbery, as there is usually sufficient time for the defendant to avoid committing the robbery while still avoiding physical harm.
Armed robbery is a serious criminal offense that can result in years of jail time and a criminal record of violent crime if convicted. Because of this, you need to craft the best possible defense strategy to avoid the life-changing consequences of a conviction.
About the Author
Sami Azhari has been working as a lawyer since 2007, after receiving his Juris Doctor from the Michigan State University College of Law. He has handled numerous state and federal cases, and is known throughout the Chicago and Rolling Meadows area for providing his clients with high-quality, skilled representation. He has been recognized by SuperLawyers, the National Trial Lawyers Association, and other notable organizations, and has spoken at a number of legal conferences.