Threats of Immediate Force to be Judged on Totality of the Circumstances to Prove Robbery

The First Department

The First Department

In People v Villanueva, 2017 NY Slip Op 01299, the First Department affirmed the defendant’s conviction for Robbery in the Second Degree even though the threat of force was to be inflicted by another party in the future should the victim refuse to comply.

In Villanueva, the defendant – Carolina Villanueva – was arrested and charged with her co-defendant Ruby Verdi with Robbery in the Second Degree or attempting to forcibly steal money from a food delivery boy.

On December 6, 2012, at around 9:00 p.m., Carlos Diaz made a food delivery at an apartment building at 367 Madison Street in Manhattan. As he tried to make his delivery, he was harassed by Ms. Verdi when he arrived, entered, and attempted to leave the building. She demanded that he pay her in exchange for sexual services, and when refused, she lied to Ms. Villenueva and said she had performed a sexual act on Mr. Diaz for which he refused to pay.

Ms. Villanueva threatened threatened Mr. Diaz that if he didn’t pay Ms. Verdi, that Ms. Villanueva would call her boyfriend who would come to the location and beat Mr. Diaz. The defendants also prevented Mr. Diaz from leaving. As a result of being arias of Ms. Villanueva carrying out her threat to summon her boyfriend, he paid the defendant’s $20.00 and left. Once at his place of employment, his boss called the police and the defendants were arrested.

The Court held, “With respect to defendant’s robbery conviction, the evidence demonstrates that defendant threatened Diaz with the immediate use of physical force.” The Court went on to say, “Based on the totality of the circumstances, the jury reasonably concluded that defendant threatened Diaz with the immediate use of physical force (People v Wood, 41 NY2d at 282 [“we do not have to evaluate . . . words in a vacuum, but rather, it was proper for the trial court to allow the jury to interpret these words in light of the myriad facts and circumstances of this case, and it is within the province of the jury to determine the weight to be accorded the testimony”])”

The defendant’s conviction and sentence to 5 years was upheld.

Read the original decision here.
People v Villanueva