Simply put, robbery means the unlawful taking of another’s person’s property by means of force or the threat of force.
1“Robbery” means the unlawful taking or obtaining of personal property from the person or in the presence of another, against his will, by means of actual or threatened force, or violence, or fear of injury, immediate or future, to his person or property, or property in his custody or possession, or the person or property of a relative or member of his family or of anyone in his company at the time of the taking or obtaining.
1The answer is commerce. The federal government only has jurisdiction to prosecute robbery if it has some effect on commerce. For federal jurisdiction purposes commerce means travel from one state to another.
1“Commerce” means commerce within the District of Columbia, or any Territory or Possession of the United States; all commerce between any point in a State, Territory, Possession, or the District of Columbia and any point outside thereof; all commerce between points within the same State through any place outside such State; and all other commerce over which the United States has jurisdiction.
1The answer starts with the U.S. Constitution. The U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 8, Clause 3 grants Congress the power to regulate commerce. Throughout the history of Commerce Clause regulation, much deference has been given to Congress’s broad ability to regulate activities that have an effect on interstate commerce.
1The Hobbs Act, passed by Congress in 1946, makes it a federal crime to obstruct, delay, or affect commerce through robbery or extortion. “Commerce” is the federal jurisdictional hook that elevates robbery to a federal crime. The commerce hook grants jurisdiction for all robberies that Congress’s Commerce Clause power reaches.
1The Hobbs Act speaks in broad language, and the tie to interstate commerce may be satisfied by a showing of a very slight effect on interstate commerce or even a potential or subtle effect on commerce.
1.) If a business purchases or sells items that travel in interstate commerce, then it is engaged in interstate commerce. Where a person commits an offense against a business which engages in interstate commerce, the nexus will be met. Common items that travel in interstate commerce: gas, cigarettes, alcoholic beverages, cellular telephones, condoms, firearms, etc.
2.) Depletion of Assets Theory. When a person’s illegal acts deplete a store’s assets, which affects the store’s ability to purchase commodities that travel in interstate commerce, the nexus is satisfied.
3.) Business Closure. When a person’s illegal act forces a store to close, which hinders the store from purchasing commodities that travel in interstate commerce, the nexus is satisfied.