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Jury Rules Pellet Gun Not Deadly Weapon, Acquits Man of Aggravated Robbery

The Austin American-Statesman reported in December 2015 that Travis County sheriff’s deputies arrested three Round Rock men in relation to a string of 10 convenience store robberies in Travis County, Bastrop County, and Williamson County over several weeks. On March 22, the Statesman reported that a jury found one of the alleged offenders not guilty of aggravated robbery

The 21-year-old alleged offender reportedly rejected the prosecution’s offer of a 40-year prison sentence in exchange for his guilty plea before the trial. A key point of the trial centered on whether the pellet guns used in the crime were deadly weapons. 

According to the Statesman, prosecutors made State District Judge David Crain aware of a ruling from a case 11 years ago in which pellet guns were found to be deadly. The district attorney’s office fought the defense’s motion to include the lesser charge of robbery, and Judge Crain ultimately denied the motion. 

With aggravated robbery being the only charge to consider, the Statesman reported that the jury deliberated for six hours before ruling that the pellet guns the men used to scare two employees are not deadly weapons. According to the Statesman, some jurors they spoke to said “there was no proof the guns contained pellets or the CO2 cartridges that power them at the time of the robbery.” 

An assistant district attorney told the Statesman that the state will proceed with prosecuting the 21-year-old for the other robberies, and cases were still pending against the two co-defendants.

Georgetown Robbery Defense Lawyer

A person commits the crime of robbery under Texas Penal Code § 29.02 if he or she, in the course of committing the offense of theft and with intent to obtain or maintain control of the property, either intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes bodily injury to another person, or intentionally or knowingly threatens or places another person in fear of imminent bodily injury or death. Texas Penal Code § 29.03 defines the crime of aggravated robbery, however, as a person committing the offense of robbery and either: 

  • Causing serious bodily injury to another person; 
  • Using or exhibiting a deadly weapon; or 
  • Causing bodily injury to another person or threatening or placing another person in fear of imminent bodily injury or death, if the other person is 65 years of age or older or a disabled person. 

The 21-year-old alleged offender in the case discussed above was charged with the first-degree felony offense of aggravated robbery, punishable by up to 99 years or life in prison if convicted. The robbery offense that the man’s attorney sought to include as a lesser charge would have been a second-degree felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison. 

The alleged offender in this case was able to avoid a conviction for the more serious offense because of a technicality, namely that the alleged deadly weapon he used in committing the alleged offense was determined by a jury to not constitute a deadly weapon. This case not only proves that weapon enhancements are far from being automatic, but also that it can sometimes be beneficial to reject proposed plea deals when alleged offenders feel that they have compelling arguments for criminal trials. 

If you were arrested or think you could be under investigation for robbery or aggravated robbery in the Williamson County area, it is in your best interest to immediately retain legal counsel. Do not say anything to authorities until you have first contacted Georgetown criminal defense attorney Michael J. Price.

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