Robbery Defenses

Those facing robbery or armed robbery charges have multiple avenues of defense. The defense can challenge the adequacy of evidence presented by the prosecution. They can argue that it did not show proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. 

Alternatively, even if a defendant admits to committing a robbery, they could argue that facts in their case suggest there is no criminal liability. This type of defense is known as an "affirmative defense."

Read on to learn about the different types of robbery defenses available to defendants charged with the crime of robbery.

Understanding the Gravity of a Robbery Offense

Robbery, particularly in cases involving deadly weapons, often leads to severe consequences. This could mean a felony conviction or a lengthy prison sentence. The charges can also range from first-degree to second-degree robbery. In addition, there are circumstances that can escalate the charge to aggravated robbery. Given that robbery is a serious offense, it is essential to understand its consequences and the defenses available.


In criminal law, the prosecution — the government — has to prove that the defendant committed the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. A defendant can often avoid a robbery conviction by attacking the prosecution's evidence. The defense can also offer evidence that undermines the prosecution's case.

For instance, the defendant can offer an alibi that they were not in the state days before and during the robbery. They can also say they were at an event during the robbery and provide witnesses to corroborate their whereabouts. The defense could challenge eyewitness identifications, videos, or other evidence presented by the prosecution.

It's important to note that the defendant doesn't have to convince a jury of their innocence. Instead, the defendant can cast reasonable doubt against the prosecution's case. If there is doubt about the defendant's guilt, the jury should return a verdict of "not guilty."


A defendant can also offer proof of their intoxication as an affirmative defense to a robbery charge.

Involuntary Intoxication

Intoxication resulting from actions outside the defendant's control usually excuses any criminal behavior. This often occurs when using involuntary intoxication as a defense. In this situation, the defendant must prove that the intoxication occurred against their will or without their knowledge or consent.

Voluntary Intoxication

The applicability of voluntary intoxication as a defense varies by jurisdiction. Some states consider it a mitigating circumstance that can lessen the defendant's criminal liability. This also depends on the level of intent and the elements of the criminal charge. But all states do not recognize voluntary intoxication as a defense, notably for specific intent crimes such as robbery. The main question in this type of defense becomes whether the defendant could form the necessary intent to commit the robbery.

Robbery requires the specific intent to use violence to steal another's personal property. Thus, intoxication could render a defendant incapable of forming this specific intent. In such cases, voluntary intoxication could result in convictions of lesser charges with a lower threshold of the defendant's intent.


If someone pushes the defendant into committing a robbery, it means that they would not have otherwise committed it — but for being pushed into doing it. If that happens, the defendant could have an entrapment defense. Entrapment defenses are difficult to prove. However, if the defendant can show that a law enforcement officer induced them to commit the crime, they might have entrapment as a defense.

However, suppose the defendant intended to commit robbery in the first place. In that case, they will have no entrapment defense. This applies even if the defendant was induced to commit robbery to collect evidence against the defendant.


The defendant could raise duress as a defense if it is shown that someone compelled or induced them to commit the crime. The inducement can result from the use of force or threat of force, such as severe bodily injury or immediate death to the defendant. However, its validity is often rooted in the credibility and immediacy of the threat.

It also considers the absence of a reasonable opportunity for the defendant to avoid the crime. The threatened harm and the lack of reasonable opportunity for the defendant to avoid the crime must be present for a duress defense to be successful.

Proving duress can be difficult for the defendant. Additionally, many courts have rejected this as a defense if the defendant does not have sufficient evidence. The courts also reject this defense if the defendant had ample opportunity to avoid the crime without risking death or serious injury.

Seek Legal Help from a Robbery Defense Lawyer

There are various rules and circumstances surrounding robbery cases. These rules often affect the outcome of the case and the penalties involved. Robbery is also a serious crime that could cause long-lasting consequences and a criminal record. Thus, it is best to seek help from an experienced criminal defense attorney. They can plan the best defense strategies that can be used in your case. They can also look at mitigating circumstances for your misdemeanor or felony offense.

FindLaw has a directory of criminal lawyers in every state. Here, you can find law offices of criminal defense lawyers near you and seek legal advice applicable to your case.

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