Salpeter Gitkin LLP
Call now to schedule a free initial consultation
PH 800.675.4128

West Palm Beach Court of Appeal: Toy Guns Don't Constitute Armed Robbery

According to a decision last week out of Florida's Fourth District Court of Appeal in West Palm Beach, an armed robbery isn't really an armed robbery if the "weapon" used in the crime can't kill or seriously injure the victims.

The court ruled in its decision to reverse a conviction of armed robbery for a crime committed by Stafford Hamilton that included the use of a toy gun, which will now be remanded to the lower court to enter a judgment for the lesser offense of robbery.

The reasoning - toy guns are scary if you don't know it's a toy, but no one's going to end up dead if it isn't real.

"In this case, the state did not introduce any evidence to show that the toy gun could be used to cause death or inflict serious bodily harm," the decision says. "While we appreciate that the victim did not know the gun was a toy and understandably was in fear, 'Florida courts apply an objective test and look to the nature and actual use of the instrument and not to the subjective fear of the victim or intent of the perpetrator.'"

The court's decision says the state's conviction relied on a case in which a man actually struck the victim several times with a toy gun, which was enough for an armed robbery conviction.

The court cited another court's opinion that this type of case was "equal to a denial of due process."

This decision also cited Florida's standard jury instructions, which define "weapon" as being "any object that could be used to cause death or inflict serious bodily harm."

Federal law doesn't quite agree - the Justice Department's U.S. Attorneys' Manual says you'll probably get a conviction if someone flashed a toy gun during a robbery.

In Florida, though, this man's conviction of a first-degree felony for armed robbery will now likely be downgraded to a second-degree felony conviction for robbery, which lowers the maximum sentence from 30 years in prison to 15 years.

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information
  • Super Lawyers Rising Stars
  • Florida Legal Elite
  • The Florida Bar 1950
  • Dade County Bar Association 1920 LEX
  • Broward County Bar Association 1925 Fidelity To Law Truth
  • Broward County Justice Association
  • American Association For Justice
Email Us For A Response

Contact The Firm

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.


Privacy Policy

Office Locations

Salpeter Gitkin LLP
1 E. Broward Blvd
Ste 1500
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301

Toll Free: 800-675-4128
Fax: 954-467-8623
Fort Lauderdale Law Office Map

North Miami Beach Office
3363 NE 163 Street
Suite 708
North Miami Beach, FL 33160

Toll Free: 800-675-4128
Fax: 954-467-8623
Map & Directions

Tallahassee Office
2623 Centennial Blvd.
Suite 204
Tallahassee, FL 32308

Toll Free: 800-675-4128
Fax: 954-467-8623
Map & Directions