The crimes of robbery and larceny are not the same. Robbery is classified as a crime against a person, while larceny is classified as a crime against property. In robbery there is, in addition to a felonious taking, a violent invasion of the person. If the person is not made to surrender the possession of the personal property by means of force or fear, the dominant element of robbery is not present. The mere taking of property in possession of another, from his person or immediate presence and against his will, is not robbery. Such taking must be accomplished by force or fear to constitute robbery.
Defendant was convicted of robbery. He appealed the conviction alleging an insufficiency of the evidence to sustain the conviction and the giving of erroneous instructions. At trial, the prosecuting witness testified that as he opened a store, the defendant entered and inquired about making a purchase. The witness had taken a box of currency and a bag of silver out of the store's safe and placed the currency in the cash register and silver on the counter. While the witness was unrolling the bag of silver, the defendant grabbed it from the witness's hands and ran out of the store. At no time did the defendant say anything to the witness, exhibit arms, or use force other than to grab the bag. On appeal, the court found that there was no element of fear. The defendant made no threat or demonstration. He simply grabbed the bag of silver from the hands of the witness and ran away with it. There was no pulling or scrambling for possession of the bag.
Was it proper to convict the defendant of robbery?
The court held that the force employed by defendant was not the kind of force necessary to constitute robbery. It was not robbery to merely snatch from the hand or person of another, or to surreptitiously take from another's pocket, money or some other thing of value. The mere taking of money by stealth from a person does not constitute robbery.