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New Jersey Purse Snatchings

CBS New York reported on December 18, 2010 in “Suspect Arrested In New Jersey Purse Snatchings” that police arrested a 50-year-old man in connection with serial purse-snatchings that plagued New Jersey shopping mall parking lots during the holidays.

N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1 discusses the New Jersey law concerning assault and provides a person is guilty of assault if s/he:

  1. Attempts to cause or purposely, knowingly, or recklessly causes bodily injury to another; or
  2. Negligently causes bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon; or
  3. Attempts by physical menace to put another in fear of imminent serious bodily injury.

Purse snatching is a type of assault because it usually involves grabbing or demanding someone’s purse and running off. A purse snatcher intentionally attacks the person in possession of the purse and causes the person to experience apprehension of an immediate intentional harmful or offensive contact. Assault does not require proof of harm by the victim though a purse often contains valuables such as a person’s passport, money, or credit cards. A purse snatcher can be guilty of assault even if the victim is not scared, does not faint, or later recovers the purse. Assault can result in severe criminal liability, including fines, court costs, and jail time of up to 5 years. When charged with assault, a defendant should engage an experienced criminal defense attorney to ensure the prosecution proves each element of the case, or to negotiate community service in lieu of jail time.

Purse snatching is also a type of robbery because it is done in the presence of a victim. There is different grading for robbery depending on whether the purse snatcher uses a deadly weapon, or threatens the victim with physical harm. Robbery is a second-degree crime, but when the defendant knowingly inflicts bodily injury or uses force upon another, it may be a first degree crime.

Under New Jersey Statute 2C:15-1, to find someone guilty of robbery, the State of New Jersey is required to prove each of the following beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. the defendant was in the course of committing a theft,
  2. while in the course of committing that theft the defendant (Choose from the following three):
    a. knowingly inflicted bodily injury or used force upon another.
    b. threatened another with or purposely put another in fear of immediate bodily injury.
    c. committed or threatened immediately to commit the crime of the first or second degree.

Robbery is a serious crime that could put a defendant away in prison for years. A defendant needs an experienced criminal defense attorney to examine all aspects of charges and negotiate any reduced sentencing.

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