Robbery by sudden snatching – what does it mean?

On Behalf of | Nov 30, 2023 | Criminal Defense

The law defines robbery as taking money or property from another person with the intent to deprive the other of the items by using force or intimidation. What sets it apart from ordinary theft is that robbery can involve violence, putting the victim in danger as the offender forcibly takes their money or property.

However, Florida law makes a further distinction by making robbery and robbery by sudden snatching two separate offenses. What does robbery by sudden snatching mean, and how does it differ from ordinary robbery?

Victim awareness, not violence, is a key factor

For example, a woman walking down the street encounters a man. The man, without warning and right in front of the woman, suddenly snatches her purse when she lets her guard down and quickly runs in the opposite direction.

The offense isn’t regular theft since the victim knew the man had grabbed her purse. It also isn’t a regular robbery, as the man didn’t use force or violence to take the purse.

By Florida law, the man committed robbery by sudden snatching, defined as taking money or property from a victim intending to deprive them of said items, and during the course of the taking the victim was or became aware of the offense.

Penalties for robbery by sudden snatching

Robbery by sudden snatching is a felony of the third degree, which is punishable by up to five years of prison and $5,000 in fines on conviction.

However, suppose the offender was carrying a firearm or other deadly weapon at the time of the taking. In that case, the offense becomes a felony of the second degree, which carries up to 15 years of imprisonment and $10,000 in fines on conviction.

The offense of robbery by sudden snatching exists somewhere between theft and ordinary robbery. However, the penalties for conviction can be enhanced if the offender had any weapons on them during the incident. Those facing this charge should consult with a legal professional to better understand the differences between these theft crimes and learn how to form a defense case.