On Febuary 17, we appeared in court to defend a young man on charges of Robbery at his Preliminary Hearing.
This case was extraordinary because our client had no criminal record, attended a top school, and was a model citizen in every objective way. The allegation was that he assaulted another man without provocation and stole his cell phone. There was evidence that our client was highly intoxicated.
To prove Robbery, the prosecutor must prove (1) that the defendant intended to steal; (2) that defendant took personal property; (3) that the taking was from the victim or in his presence; (4) that the taking was against the will of the owner or possessor; and (5) that the taking was accomplished by violence to the person (or intimidation, threat of serious bodily harm, or threat of a firearm or deadly weapon). The punishment is between 5 years and life in prison.
Due to the facts of the case and a strong mitigation defense, the prosecutor agreed to reduce the charge from felony Robbery all the way down to misdemeanor Assault and Battery. The sentence included 50 hours of community service and $650 in restitution. Our client pled “No Contest,” and forever saved himself the risk of a felony conviction and a long prison sentence. However, he also gave up his trial and his chance to be acquitted — and he had some good defenses. However, most people facing 5 years to life in prison on a felony, when offered the chance to plead to a misdemeanor without any jail, rationally find a compromise to be attractive for risk adversion reasons. Most people aren’t lucky enough to have a choice like his; rather, they must engage in “bet your life litigation.” We, of course, stand prepared to help our clients to the best of our ability no matter what the stakes.