We all know that taking someone else’s property is a crime. We have different names for the different situations in which it might occur. Shoplifting, robbery, burglary, etc. But what if a person took property that was originally his? Would it still be a crime? A source tells of two interesting cases reviewed by the Court of Appeals that will answer this question.
The first case involves Edward Reid. He was charged with murder, 2nd degree robbery, and illegal possession of a weapon. He was found not innocent of the first and guilty of the last two. According to reports, he and his stepbrother, Andre McLean, approached three men in a street in Bronx. Both Reid and McLean were armed with pistols. Reid asked the three men to return the money they owed him for certain drug transactions. Two of the men paid up but the third man said he had no money on him. He asked Reid if they could go up to his apartment to get cash. As they walked up the stairs to the apartment, Reid took McLean’s pistol and told him to hand over the cash that he was holding for Reid. McLean handed over $300 and rushed at Reid. A shot was fired and McLean was hit in the chest. He died not soon after of the wound. Reid then ran away.
The second case involves Walter Riddles. He was charged with 2nd degree robbery and 2nd degree assault and was found guilty of 3rd degree robbery. During the trial, he and the victim, Genevieve Bellamy, gave different stories of what happened. According to Bellamy, she was waiting for a taxi in a streetcorner in the Bronx when Riddles drove by. She said that it was the first time that she saw him. He asked her for directions and when she leaned in to help him, he pulled her inside and asked for her money. When she said she didn’t have any, he hit her and she was forced to give him $50. Then, he let her out and drove away.
Riddles story is very different. He said that he knew Bellamy even before the incident and that she owed him $25. He met her one night and she said she’d give him a partial payment of $15 if he would drive her downtown to pick up a package. He did. She wasn’t able to pick it up though but said that if he’d drive her home again, she’d give him the $15. When he saw her counting up a lot of money, he took the full amount she owed him.
The Court believed in Riddles story. However, because he had used force to get the money that Bellamy owed him, the Court ruled that what happened was still a robbery.
Before we move on, let’s discuss a few words that will give us a better understanding of things. According to a story, larceny is taking another person’s property for yourself. Robbery is taking another person’s property for yourself using force.
The law says that when a person takes another person’s property for himself in good faith, meaning without any evil intent, then he cannot be charged with larceny. Since robbery is just larceny with the use of force, the lawyers of both Reid and Riddles tried to use this logic as a defense for their clients. Since they were only taking back money that was owed them and is rightfully theirs, they should not be charged with robbery.
This defense is used and acceptable in a lot of other states. They say that a person who wants to get his property back has no intent to steal and therefore cannot be charged with robbery. According to the Court of Appeals, this is understandable in the case of actual property. In the two cases however, we have Reid, who wants to recover money earned from illegal drug trafficking and Riddles, who wants to recover money owed him from a debt.
A study says that the decision of the Court of Appeals and many other Appellate Courts in other subdivisions is that claiming that you own a thing and only want to get it back is not a defense against the criminal charge of robbery.
Also, he says that claiming good faith, or lack of evil intent, in recovering your property is not a defense against all kinds of larceny. It cannot be used for example, as a defense against extortion. This is important because extortion implies being threatened with harm or coercion. Thus, the Court notes that the good faith claim cannot be used to defend in instances where force is used.
Being involved in a court case can be a very tiresome and confusing process. You need to be sure that you get all the help and support you can for you, or for your loved ones. Don’t leave it up to chance or you can risk losing not just money, but a lot of valuable time. Stephen Bilkis & Associates, together with his New York Robbery Lawyers, can give you the help you need. They can even recommend specialized lawyers for your specific needs.
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