Vincent Knowles was charged with one count of robbery in the first degree. He admitted in the hearing before the court that he did steal money, a wallet, jewelry and subway tokens from a Henry Laylock. He also testified that he placed his hand in his pocket, which looked like he had a gun so Mr. Laylock will give him his valuables. The fact was he was unarmed. He pleaded guilty to robbery in the second degree. A New York Criminal Lawyer said if a person displays what appears to be a pistol, revolver, rifle, shotgun, machine gun or other firearm when he forcibly steals a property, he is guilty of robbery in the second degree according to the law.
The Trial Court had accepted Mr. Knowles plea, and the case was given to the Supreme Court Appellate Division for review. The Court of Appeals in their review said they need to be one to check if the letter of the law was correctly interpreted in this case. The law states a person who “displays what appears to be” a firearm during a robbery is guilty of robbery in the second degree. The focus they said is to be on the word appears instead of display. In this case, Mr. Knowles did not display anything as his hand was in his pocket during the robbery. In his testimony, he admitted he pretended it was a gun.
Before any revision to the Penal Law, the only law which pertained to firearms was with the robbery in the first degree, according to a Suffolk County Criminal Lawyer. This is when a person is armed with a dangerous weapon when committing a robbery. It was not defined by the unrevised law, but the court had always ruled to show the weapon needs to be working and loaded for it to be deemed dangerous. If the gun is inoperable and not loaded, it fell on the robbery in the third degree. So even in the previous statute, this was not a robbery in the first degree.
In this case said the court, Mr. Knowles was unarmed. Though this is the situation, he had made the victim believe he had one, and the fear that both induce is the same. It appeared to be an armed robbery, so then it seemed the perpetrator had a gun. It is not considered as unarmed. The court’s conclusion is that it is a robbery in the second degree as in the commission of the robbery, Mr. Knowles had shown what had appeared to be a firearm, which was testified to by the victim and himself.
The charge for the crime committed and the punishment for such crime should be equitable to what the person did. This is why the law had different degrees assigned to the robberies. The degrees show how much harm the person had intended to do if the situation asked for it.
If you are accused of an armed robbery, drug charge or sex crimes, and you know you were not, you may be entitled to a lesser charge. Stephen Bilkis and Associates’ legal team have the experience to know and provide you with options for the best defense in your case. Our offices are located all over New York and Long Island. We are in Queens, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Staten Island, and Manhattan. In Long Island, they are in Suffolk County and Nassau County, as well as in Westchester County. We will provide you with legal guidance and a free consultation. Call us now at 1-800-NY-NY-LAW