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Man takes cigarettes: criminal charges of robbery, larceny filed

Most people try to steal money when they're desperate. Some might go into a store and steal food if they have a hungry baby to feed. Very few robbers or thieves would risk going to jail by stealing a single pack of cigarettes. One man, however, must have suffered overpowering nicotine withdrawal on Nov. 9 when he reportedly walked into a convenience store in New London and threatened the clerk with harm if he did not turn over a cigarette pack. Police later arrested a 46-year-old Connecticut man who they claim is the perpetrator, and filed criminal charges of robbery and larceny against him.

The theft did not involve a weapon but the perpetrator reportedly threatened to hurt the clerk if he didn't give him the cigarettes. The clerk complied and the thief exited the store, running on foot. Police found the suspect in the vicinity and arrested him. It's unknown to what extent the police have identified the accused as the perpetrator. The clerk in this case would be a key eyewitness, and if his identification testimony is believable, the prosecution would most likely have a sustainable case.

However, it's unknown if the perpetrator wore a disguise or if there are discrepancies in eyewitness descriptions of the individual. In any event, if the police have viable and ample eyewitness testimony against the accused, his best strategy will be to negotiate a plea agreement for probation and no incarceration. Perhaps he needs tobacco counseling as well.

Assuming that the accused seeks a plea bargain, Connecticut criminal defense counsel will want to get the robbery charge dismissed in return for a guilty plea to a single larceny charge. The robbery charge is borderline in any event because the perpetrator did not use a weapon. Although placing the clerk in fear could technically qualify as robbery, it's a simple form of it which is to be distinguished from armed robbery or aggravated robbery.

Thus, the robbery charge here is superfluous under Connecticut law. A guilty plea to larceny will cover and punish the same acts. That's generally the gist of one fairly cogent argument that criminal defense counsel may assert in negotiating a deal on these criminal charges.

Source: NBC Connecticut, New London Police Arrest Robbery Suspect, Ari Mason, Nov. 10, 2013

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