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Attempted robbery

Published (3/7/2008)
By Craig Green
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Monica McIntosh said it started out as a normal day. She was driving on Interstate 94 from Minneapolis to St. Paul when a man forced her car from the left side of the freeway to the right shoulder, pinning her in. He got out of his car, threatening her and throwing things. McIntosh said that if her doors had not been locked and her windows rolled up, she’s positive he would have done much worse.

When the case went to trial, the man was convicted of attempted robbery, and given a probationary sentence. Because of credit for time served, he was out the day the final sentence was announced.

This case and others like it serve as the foundation for HF3175, sponsored by Rep. John Benson (DFL-Minnetonka). Presented to the House Public Safety Finance Division March 5, it was laid over for possible inclusion in its omnibus bill.

The bill would increase the penalty for attempted robbery to match the penalty for robbery. It would provide that anyone who commits, or attempts, a robbery against someone inside a motor vehicle is guilty of a felony and subject to a penalty 50 percent longer than the maximum penalty for simple or aggravated robbery.

Assistant Hennepin County Attorney David Brown said that in such violent situations, what’s important to remember is “the emotional harm that is done when the force is made.”

Rep. Tina Liebling (DFL-Rochester) said the bill may be blurring the distinction between attempting a crime and committing one. “Some may believe that they should go ahead and complete the crime because it’s going to be the same [penalty] anyway,” Liebling said.

State Public Defender John Stuart said he is concerned about the bill’s addition of an increase in a maximum sentence, urging that such decisions be made by the Sentencing Guidelines Commission.

A companion bill, SF2680, sponsored by Sen. Terri Bonoff (DFL-Minnetonka), awaits action by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

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