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Atlanta Criminal Defense Lawyers > Blog > Theft > Is It Still Armed Robbery If the Victim Never Saw the Gun?

Is It Still Armed Robbery If the Victim Never Saw the Gun?


Armed robbery is one of the more serious theft offenses you can be charged with in Georgia. Under state law, a conviction for armed robbery carries a minimum prison sentence of 10 years and a maximum of life imprisonment. Conviction itself requires the state to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendant took the property of another person “by use of an offensive weapon.”

Court of Appeals: Eyewitness Statement Sufficient to Prove Defendant Had Gun

In the context of an armed robbery, it is sufficient for the prosecution to show the defendant displayed or brandished a weapon. It is not necessary to show the defendant actually attacked or harmed the victim with said weapon. For example, if a person walks into a bank, displays a gun, and demands $50,000, that is still considered armed robbery even if the robber never fires their weapon.

But what if the victim cannot recall whether or not the defendant ever had a weapon on them? The Georgia Court of Appeals recently addressed such a case. In Grant v. State, the defendant attacked a victim who owed him money for some drugs. More specifically, the defendant punched the victim several times and took two of his cell phones “as a means to secure the debt.”

An eyewitness to this incident initially told the police she saw a “small black gun” in the defendant’s right hand when he punched the victim. But the victim told the police he did not see a gun or know if the defendant had one on him during the attack. Nevertheless, police arrested the defendant and charged him with armed robbery, battery, and other criminal charges related to the illegal possession of a firearm.

At trial, the victim again testified he never saw a gun. The eyewitness testified she could not remember if there was a gun. But she insisted her earlier statement to the police was “more accurate than her current recollection.”

The jury convicted the defendant on all charges. The defense moved for a new trial, arguing there was insufficient evidence to prove the defendant used a gun during the robbery. The judge denied the motion.

The Court of Appeals likewise upheld the jury’s verdict. It held that the jury was allowed to “infer” from the eyewitness’ initial statement to the police that the defendant “was holding a gun while hitting the victim.” This was sufficient to prove the defendant “used” an offensive weapon in the course of taking the victim’s cell phones. The fact the victim himself never saw or perceived a gun was irrelevant, the appellate court said.

Contact Hawkins Spizman Trial Lawyers Today

Armed robbery and other theft-related crimes can send a person to jail for years if not decades under Georgia law. So if you are charged with this type of offense it is imperative that you work with an experienced Atlanta theft attorney who will zealously represent your interests in court. Contact Hawkins Spizman Trial Lawyers today to schedule a free consultation. We serve clients throughout Georgia including Atlanta, Dunwoody, Alpharetta, Cobb County, Fulton County, Gwinnett County, Johns Creek and Sandy Springs.



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