The PA Superior Court has decided the case of Commonwealth v. Lloyd, No. 3500 EDA 2015 (Nov. 29, 2016), holding that by deceiving the victim into unlocking and opening a valet booth and then physically pushing past him to take the keys that were hanging on a wall, Lloyd committed a robbery.
Lloyd approached a valet parking booth attended by Indris. Lloyd feigned a need for aid from Indris and asked him to unlock the booth door. Indris eventually agreed to open the door. Lloyd then forced his way inside the booth, knocking Indris to the side with his body.
Despite fearing for his safety, Indris initially remained in the booth and attempted to dissuade Lloyd from taking the keys. However, Lloyd obtained a plastic garbage bag and filled it with keys from vehicles parked in the garage.
Indris retreated to safety, called police and they eventually arrested Lloyd, charging him with theft by unlawful taking, receiving stolen property, and robbery.
Following a bench trial, the court found Lloyd guilty of robbery graded as a third-degree felony. He was sentenced to eleven to twenty-three months incarceration for that conviction.
Whether the evidence was sufficient to support a conviction for robbery as a felony of the third degree where there was no evidence of a taking from the person of the complainant or that the requisite force was employed?
The evidence was sufficient to support the robbery verdict where Lloyd gained entry to the valet booth by using his body to physically remove Indris from the entrance and then taking the keys entrusted to Indris’ in his presence.
Lloyd contended that the Commonwealth failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he “removed property from the person of another by force however slight.” In doing so, he noted that he did not take the keys from Indris’s immediate person, but from the wall of the valet booth.
The Superior Court disagreed. First, it noted that a robbery may be committed by a taking from the presence of another as well as from the person’s body. Additionally, the Court noted that common sense dictates that a person need not be in actual physical possession of property to have it taken from his person and any amount of force applied to a person while committing a theft brings that act within the scope of the robbery statute.
As to the degree of force required, the Superior Court stated that the degree of force is immaterial, so long as it is sufficient to separate the victim from his property in, on or about his body.
In this case, as opposed to being a mere observer, Indris had exercised dominion, control, and possession over the keys when Lloyd took them in his presence.
Thus, the Superior Court concluded that the facts supported the trial court’s conclusion that Lloyd took the keys with force and therefore committed a robbery.
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