Royal v. State

Decision Date26 June 1986
Docket NumberNo. 65720,65720
Citation11 Fla. L. Weekly 274,490 So.2d 44
Parties11 Fla. L. Weekly 274 Linda Gayle ROYAL, et al., Petitioners, v. STATE of Florida, Respondent.
CourtFlorida Supreme Court

James B. Gibson, Public Defender and Larry B. Henderson, Asst. Public Defender, Seventh Judicial Circuit, Daytona Beach, for petitioners.

Jim Smith, Atty. Gen. and Richard B. Martell, Asst. Atty. Gen., Daytona Beach, for respondent.

OVERTON, Justice.

This is a petition to review Royal v. State, 452 So.2d 1098 (Fla. 5th DCA 1984), in which the Fifth District Court of Appeal held that petitioners, who employed force while fleeing a retail store after committing a theft, were properly convicted of robbery. We find conflict with Montsdoca v. State, 84 Fla. 82, 93 So. 157 (1922). 1 We quash the district court decision and find that, in defining "robbery" in section 812.13, Florida Statutes (1983), the legislature did not alter the common law requirement that "force, violence, assault, or putting in fear" must occur prior to or contemporaneous with the taking of property.

Petitioners, Linda Gayle Royal and William Ellison, were observed in a department store placing clothing in a plastic garbage bag. As petitioners proceeded past the cash register and toward the front door, they were intercepted by a store detective. Ellison pushed the detective aside. Petitioners left the store and were entering an automobile when the store detective and two other store employees attempted to deter them and recover the clothing. As one of the employees tried to grab the ignition key, Ellison struck him. When another employee began to struggle with Ellison, Royal pointed a pistol at the employee's head, causing all three employees to retreat. Both petitioners were convicted of robbery while carrying a deadly weapon. No evidence had been offered at trial to indicate that the pistol produced by Royal had been carried into the store.

The district court of appeal affirmed petitioners' convictions. In holding that Ellison's pushing aside of the store detective and Royal's use of the pistol constituted force in the taking of property, the district court reasoned that the possession of the clothing at those times remained in "continuing dispute." 452 So.2d at 1100. The district court noted with approval the decision of the Third District Court of Appeal in Stufflebean v. State, 436 So.2d 244 (Fla.3d DCA 1983), which held that

where an offender gains possession of property of another without force and with intent to deprive the true owner of its use, but the victim gives instant and uninterrupted protest or pursuit in an effort to thwart a taking, and the offender then assaults the victim in order to complete the taking of the property and make good an escape, the offense is robbery. This construction of Section 812.13 ... we think, is precisely what the legislature intended.

Id. at 246.

We disagree with the district court's finding that the taking was ongoing at the time petitioners employed force. A theft can occur under sections 812.014(1) and 812.015(1)(d), Florida Statutes (1983), regardless of whether the goods are successfully removed from the store premises. 2

The question for resolution is whether the offense of robbery, as defined by section 812.13, Florida Statutes (1983), has occurred when, after completing a theft, the defendant employs "force, violence, assault, or putting in fear" while fleeing the premises from which the goods were taken. That section provides:

(1) "Robbery" means the taking of money or other property which may be the subject of larceny from the person or custody of another by force, violence, assault, or putting in fear.

(2)(a) If in the course of committing the robbery the offender carried a firearm or other deadly weapon, then the robbery is a felony of the first degree....

(b) If in the course of committing the robbery the offender carried a weapon, then the robbery is a felony of the first degree....

(c) If in the course of committing the robbery the offender carried no firearm, deadly weapon, or other weapon, then the robbery is a felony of the second degree....

(3) An act shall be deemed "in the course of committing the robbery" if it occurs in an attempt to commit robbery or in flight after the attempt or commission.

In our prior decisions, this Court has interpreted section 812.13 as being consistent with the common law, which defines robbery as "the felonious taking of money or goods of value from the person of another, or in his presence, against his will, by violence, or putting him in fear." Williams v. Mayo, 126 Fla. 871, 875, 172 So. 86, 87 (1937). In Montsdoca, we stated that the threat or force used to accomplish the taking of property or money is the element that distinguishes the offense of robbery from the offense of theft:

It is violence that makes robbery an offense of greater atrocity than larceny. Robbery may thus be said to be a compound larceny composed of the crime of larceny from the person with the aggravation of force, actual or constructive, used in the taking.

An intent to steal is essential, so is violence or putting in fear.

The violence or intimidation must precede or be contemporaneous with the taking of the property.

84 Fla. at 86, 93 So. at 159 (emphasis added; citations omitted). See also Colbey v. State, 46 Fla. 112, 35 So. 189 (1903).

We reject the state's argument that subsection (3) of section 812.13 broadens the common law definition of robbery set forth in subsection (1). Rather, we conclude that subsection (3) was intended only to define the phrase "in the course of committing the robbery," as it is used in subsection (2) for purposes of establishing punishment by reference to the type of force used to perpetrate the robbery.

Because they did not employ force prior to or while taking the store merchandise, we hold that petitioners cannot be properly convicted of robbery with a firearm under section 812.13. Under these facts, however, we find that petitioners could have been charged separately with theft, for the taking of the goods that occurred in the store; assault and battery, for the incident that occurred while petitioners were leaving the store; and...

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44 cases
  • Foster v. State
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • 6 Marzo 1992
    ...long ago by the Supreme Court of Florida in Montsdoca v. State, 84 Fla. 82, 93 So. 157 (1922); and much more recently in Royal v. State, 490 So.2d 44 (Fla.1986), quashing 452 So.2d 1098 (Fla. 5th DCA 1984). See also, Milam v. State, 505 So.2d 34 (Fla. 5th DCA 1987); Flarity v. State, 499 So......
  • United States v. Carr
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — District of Columbia Circuit
    • 7 Enero 2020
    ...that robbery in Colorado has as an element the use or threatened use of physical force against another person."); Royal v. State , 490 So. 2d 44, 46 (Fla. 1986) (noting that robbery requires only intimidation, but explaining that "[i]t is violence that makes robbery an offense of greater at......
  • Sanders v. State, 92-1302
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • 28 Mayo 1993
    ...the period provided for herein and has been held to apply retroactively.8 See Carawan v. State, 515 So.2d 161 (Fla.1987); Royal v. State, 490 So.2d 44 (Fla.1986); Vance v. State, 545 So.2d 398 (Fla. 1st DCA), rev. denied, 551 So.2d 463 (Fla.1989); Rojas v. State, 543 So.2d 415 (Fla. 5th DCA......
  • Ball v. State
    • United States
    • Maryland Court of Appeals
    • 1 Septiembre 1996
    ...have refused to uphold robbery convictions where force was applied subsequent to the physical act of "taking." See, e.g., Royal v. State, 490 So.2d 44, 46 (Fla.1986) (holding that robbery convictions were improper where force was not used "prior to or while taking" the property) 3; State v.......
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1 books & journal articles
  • Claims of right in theft and robbery prosecutions.
    • United States
    • Florida Bar Journal Vol. 73 No. 10, November 1999
    • 1 Noviembre 1999
    ...duress, or coercion either. (18) FLA. STAT. [sections]813.011 (1973). (19) FLA. STAT. [sections]812.13(1) (1974). (20) Royal v. State, 490 So. 2d 44, 46 (Fla. (21) Williams v. Mayo, 172 So. 86, 87 (Fla. 1937). (22) Bell, 394 So. 2d at 979. (23) Id. at 979-80. (24) The court's reluctance to ......

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