Koosh Jewelers in Hollywood, Florida were the victims of a very shocking armed robbery earlier today. According to news reports, 4 men were involved in the heist. If caught, these men will be in dire need of a very experienced criminal defense attorney.
Of the four men involved, three are said to have entered the store while the fourth waited outside in a black, late model SUV. Witnesses described the three men who entered Koosh Jewlers between 5’10” and 6’2″ in height. They were also described as being in their 20’s.
One robber wore a tan Dickies style uniform, while another wore a similar uniform in grey. A third suspect allegedly wore tan pants and a black, long sleeve undershirt.
These descriptions are important because they will help police identify the robbers. If any arrests are made, identification will become a focal issue in the ensuing prosecutions.
Another major issue in this case will be the principal theory, which is used to charged co-conspirators in a crime. In a nutshell, if you participated in a crime you can be charged as a principal, even if you had a very minor role in the overall offense. For example, the guy who waited in the getaway car can be charged with armed robbery as a principal, even though he did not even enter the jewelry store, not to mention hold a gun to someone’s head or demand money.
Ultimately, any future prosecution for this offense will sink or swim on the quality of eye witness testimony. The eye witnesses will be needed not only to identify the robbers, but to also reliably explain what happened and who did what.
One major aggravating factor present in this is the fact that one of the armed robbers pointed a gun to the head of a baby in a stroller and said, “You will follow my demands or I will kill this child.”
This conduct is utterly egregious and will surely result in extremely hefty prison sentence, should this case proceed that far.
No matter how upright of a model citizen this person may have been before, the second he put a gun to a baby’s head all bets were off. There is no doubt in my mind that his judge will sentence him to the statutory maximum for endangering that child no matter what his sentencing guidelines are.
The best criminal defense attorneys are realistic and truly objective. In cases like these, there are very few defenses that may exist.
Based on the description of this case in the media, my feeling as a criminal defense lawyer is that these four robbers will need to take their cases to trial. No prosecutor with half a brain will offer an acceptable plea bargain.
At trial, the only viable defense they may have is to challenge the evidence that identifies them as the true offenders.
Challenging what happened in the store is pointless. It is clear that an armed robbery took place, that a gun was used to threaten a baby’s life, and that a $1 million in cash and jewelry was stolen.
The only real question that exists is who did it.
Did the robbers wear masks? Did they cover their faces with scarves or a hoodie? What proof will prosecutors use to identify those arrested and charged as the true robbers?
Ultimately, the strength of the prosecution’s case, if one is every generated, will rest entirely on two factors: 1) the quality and value of any surveillance video, and 2) the believability of eye witness testimony.
If police are lucky, they may be able to obtain fingerprint evidence or confessions from the people they arrest.
In any event, this case is extremely serious and will require a huge amount of preparation by a qualified criminal defense attorney before it can be ready to go to trial… assuming the police are even able to make an arrest.