Iowa City residents may celebrate their birthdays in a variety of ways. Some prefer an intimate dinner with a loved one. Others may opt for a big birthday bash, surrounded by friends and loud festivities. A few thrill-seeking souls may even decide to conquer their fears and perform an adventurous feat on their special day, such as bungee jumping or skydiving.
Almost no celebrant, however, would understand the way in which one Iowa man recently commemorated his birthday: The man allegedly robbed five different convenience stores in Cedar Rapids within a four-hour time period. According to authorities, the 24-year-old man used a replica BB gun to loot cash, cigarettes and alcohol from the stores.
According to prosecutors, the replica gun looked authentic. The distinction may be important. Robberies are distinguished from simple threat charges by a suspect's alleged use of force or fear. However, state law may impose higher felony charges in a robbery where the suspect used a weapon. A jury may likely have to resolve the issue, which they might be able to do because the alleged crimes were caught on surveillance tapes at the stores.
In this case, the man is facing charges of second-degree robbery for his birthday looting. That level of felony might be prosecuted as a class C felony, which carries a potential maximum prison term of 10 years and fines up to $10,000. The man's bail was set at $50,000, calculated at $10,000 for each of the five incidents.
Given the severity of the penalties he is facing, the man might benefit from a consultation with an experienced Iowa City criminal defense attorney. An attorney might be able to plea bargain for a lesser offense, based on a review of the arrest record and the evidence, as well as any mitigating factors.
Source: thegazette.com, "Cedar Rapids man charged in birthday robbery spree," April 23, 2013