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OPINION / COMMENTARY
LETTER TO THE EDITOR
by Dr. James E. Olsson, American University
CONCERNING AL SHARPTON’S STATEMENT THAT MICHAEL BROWN COMMITTED “SHOPLIFTING”: THE FOLLOWING IS THE THE LEGAL PROOF THAT MICHAEL BROWN COMMITTED “STRONG ARM ROBBERY” (A CLASS 4 FELONY) AS OPPOSED TO “SHOPLIFTING”
“The tape I saw, a young man may have been shoplifting. There’s a difference between robbing and shoplifting. ” AL SHARPTON
YES, THERE IS A DIFFERENCE. IN THE VIDEO RELEASED BY POLICE AUGUST 9TH, MICHAEL BROWN ATTEMPTS TO LEAVE THE STORE WITH A 50 DOLLAR CARTON OF CIGARS. THE MANAGER ATTEMPTS TO LOCK THE DOOR TO PREVENT BROWN FROM EXITING – AN ACT HE HAS THE RIGHT TO DO UNDER THE LAW. BROWN CLEARLY GRABS HIS NECK AREA AND PUSHES HIM BACK INTO A RACK CONTAINING POTATO CHIPS. BROWN THEN RUSHES TOWARD HIM FURTHER EMPLOYING INTIMIDATION DURING THE ROBBERY AS WELL AS THE THREAT OF PHYSICAL HARM. AS SHOWN BELOW, UNDER MISSOURI STATUTES THIS IS TEXTBOOK CASE OF STRONG ARM ROBBERY AND NOT “SHOPLIFTING”. UNDER MISSOURI STATUTES, SHOPLIFTING DOES NOT INCLUDE PHYSICAL FORCE, THREATS, OR INTIMIDATION – ALL OF WHICH BROWN USED. FURTHERMORE, BY GRABBING AND SHOVING THE MANAGER BROWN ALSO COMMITTED 1ST DEGREE ASSAULT, ANOTHER FELONY.
Missouri Revised Statutes
Chapter 569 STRONG ARM ROBBERY
569.010. As used in this chapter the following terms mean:
(1) “Forcibly steals”, a person “forcibly steals”, and thereby commits robbery, when, in the course of stealing, as defined in section 570.030, he uses or threatens the immediate use of physical force upon another person for the purpose of:
(a) Preventing or overcoming resistance to the taking of the property or to the retention thereof immediately after the taking.
Shoplifting is punished as stealing in Missouri. Stealing consists of taking property that belongs to another person, without the person’s consent, or by means of deceit or coercion, and with the intention of depriving that person of the property (Missouri Revised Statutes 570.030
The basic shoplifting case can quickly turn felony when the shoplifter – in an attempt to steal the merchandise uses any type of force to commit the crime of shoplifting. A DA can then add the felony charge of “strong arm” robbery.
In the shoplifting turned robbery situation there is a possible prison term of up to six years in the Department of Corrections.
Missouri State defines the charge of 18-4-301 Robbery as follows:
(1) A person who knowingly takes anything of value from the person or presence of another by the use of force, threats, or intimidation commits robbery.
(2) Robbery is a class 4 felony.
Case-law has describes the basic nature of robbery as “the application of physical force or intimidation against the victim at any time during the course of a transaction culminating in the taking of property from the victim’s person or presence.”
Therefore, if a suspected shoplifter pushes away a security guard or a store worker – takes the item and then tries to escape the store to beat a shoplifting charge, then he can also be charged with robbery.
THE VIDEO OF MICHAEL BROWN IN THE STORE CAN BE USED AS A LITERAL TEXTBOOK EXAMPLE OF “STRONG ARM ROBBERY”.
James Olsson Ph.D., Mt. Washington, MD