Robbery Versus Shoplifting

In the case of the State of Florida versus Dennis Baker, some security guards at a department store located inside a shopping mall saw Mr. Baker take a videotape recorder and leave the store without first paying for it. When Baker saw the guards coming towards him, he put the recorder down inside the mall and began running. When the guards stopped him, Baker began struggling and shouting that they should leave him alone and that he had a gun. Baker never attempted to grab the recorder from off the floor during the struggle. He was eventually charged with committing the crime of robbery.

Baker asked the judge to dismiss his case because he originally took the recorder without using any force, and he put it on the ground before using force against the guards. In order to be guilty of robbery, Baker argued, he would have to have been in possession of the recorder while running away from the guards or while struggling with them. But because neither of those things occurred, he was not guilty of robbery. The judge agreed with him and dismissed his case.

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