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Didn’t Take The Cash? Returned The Wallet? Still Counts as an Armed Robbery in Michigan!

A woman holding a gun out in her hand, pointing it at someone.

Earlier this month a man in Ypsilanti Township had a surreal but still very scary experience. He was held at ‘gunpoint’ by an armed man in his 50s, who approached him with a pipe fashioned to look like a gun. The man forced him to hand over his wallet, which he did. But once the gunman (pipeman?) had it in hand, he realized it was empty. Obviously, since the point of the exercise was to get quick and easy cash, an empty billfold doesn’t do anyone any good, so the armed man handed the wallet back to its owner and fled the scene.

Now, the question you may be asking yourself is this: does it still count as an Armed Robbery? Technically, the man wasn’t even armed (he had a pipe, remember, not a gun!), he didn’t actually take any money from his victim, and he gave the guy’s wallet back to him. Surely he didn’t actually break any laws. So he should be fine, right? Nope, that’s not how it works in Michigan. Curious? Confused? Let’s take a look…

What does ‘Armed Robbery’ mean under Michigan law?

Michigan law says that in order for someone to be charged with armed robbery, three factors must be present.

  1. The defendant committed violence against, or used force, put in fear, or assaulted another human being.
  2. The accused did this while committing larceny (which means stealing someone else’s property)
  3. While the accused was “in the course of committing the larceny,” he or she:
  • had a dangerous weapon capable of causing serious injury or death; or 
  • had any other item capable of causing serious injury or death that was used as a weapon; or 
  • had an object that was used or made in a way to lead the person present to believe it was indeed a dangerous weapon; or 
  • told the victim or otherwise represented that the accused had a weapon.

So it DOES count when you look at it that way!

The man with the pipe approached someone in a threatening manner. The guy being held up was afraid of being hurt or killed. So that takes care of number 1.

Number 2 is where the stealing comes in. And while the armed robber did give the wallet back, that doesn’t change the fact that he still took it in the first place. He took it by force and only returned it because it was empty. If it had been full, he could just as easily have run off with all that cash. But that doesn’t matter – what matters is that he took some guy’s wallet by force, which counts as larceny. Generally, Michigan law looks at the actor’s intent when the act was committed. So for larceny, the actor must have the intent to permanently deprive the owner of something of value. 

The last one, number 3, is easy to see. The robber was armed with something that could have caused injury to his victim – a metal pipe. Sure, it wasn’t a gun, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t count as a potential weapon if used in a certain way. (Technically anything can be used as a weapon when you think about it!) He also allowed his victim to believe (however momentarily) that he was armed with a gun.

Armed robbery charges are extremely serious in Michigan!

So despite the fact that the guy in question didn’t have a gun, didn’t take any cash, and actually gave his victim’s wallet back, the fact is he is probably going to prison if the cops ever catch him! Why because armed robbery charges are very, very serious and the consequences of that conviction are no joke! (Think decades behind bars!) When you know someone facing any kind of weapons-related charges in Michigan, call The Kronzek Firm immediately at 866 7 NoJail (1-866 766 5245). Our aggressive and highly experienced criminal defense attorneys have spent decades successfully battling on behalf of our clients all over Michigan’s lower peninsula. 

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