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State v. Sein

Supreme Court of New Jersey
590 A.2d 665 (1991)


Facts

Edythe Williams was carrying a purse under her arm and unlocking her car when Francisco Sein (defendant) walked up behind Williams, reached across her, slid the purse out from under her arm, and ran away. There was no evidence that Sein used any force other than the force used in sliding the purse out from under Williams’s arm. Sein was later arrested and charged with robbery. The original 1979 robbery statute, N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:15-1a, stated that a person was guilty of robbery if, while committing a theft, the person injured or threatened another. In 1981, the legislature amended the robbery statute to include the language under which Sein was charged. The amended statute provided that a person was guilty of robbery if, while committing a theft, the person inflicted bodily injury or used force upon another. At trial, Sein moved for a judgment of acquittal, arguing that the case should proceed only on the lesser-included offense of larceny from the person, defined as the unlawful taking of the moveable property of another with the intent to deprive the other of that property. Sein contended that he had not used force against Williams’s person in taking the purse and that force was required for a robbery conviction. The state argued that the legislature had intended for the force used to remove a purse from a victim to be sufficient to constitute a robbery. The trial court denied Sein’s motion, and the jury convicted Sein of second-degree robbery. Sein appealed. The appellate division reversed and ordered that Sein be convicted and resentenced for the lesser offense of larceny. The state appealed.

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Clifford, J.)

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Dissent

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