Lesser Included Offenses
While paying at a convenience store, a man briefly leaves his wallet sitting on the counter. A stranger suddenly grabs the wallet and runs off. Another man, walking home at night, is confronted by a stranger with a gun who forces him to hand his wallet over. Both strangers can be charged with the crime of larceny. However, because he used force in committing his theft, the second stranger can also be charged with the more serious offense of robbery.
In legal terminology, larceny is considered a “lesser included offense” of robbery. All of the elements needed to convict someone of larceny are also required to prove someone of robbery. In other words, you cannot be guilty of robbery without also being guilty of larceny. Although this may seem like a trivial fact, it can make all the difference for someone facing criminal charges.
If you have been charged with a crime, the prosecutor will sometimes file the most severe charges possible for the circumstances. It is not uncommon for prosecutors to offer to reduce the charges in return for a guilty plea, an agreement known as plea bargaining. Without the help of a defense lawyer, however, it can be difficult to understand just what the prosecutor is offering. Even if he is offering a reduction, it may still exceed the reality of your situation.
A skilled defense attorney can help you at every step. He or she can help you evaluate and challenge plea bargains. If your case goes to court, a defense attorney can help you clear your name; and if you are found guilty, your attorney can help you reduce your sentence.