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Brooklyn Robbery Lawyers

Understanding the Difference between Theft and Robbery

Many people use theft and robbery interchangeably; however, there is a difference between both offenses. Theft is unlawfully taking property with the aim of permanently depriving the legal owner of that item. On the other hand, robbery involves both the act of taking property and intention of permanently depriving a person of that property, but also with the threat or application of force. Robbery results in severe penalties when a victim or bystander gets injured during the act. If you have been charged with robbery, read on for a basic understanding of the different laws associated with this offense.

Categories of Robbery

Robbery is classified as third, second, and first degree. The different classes of robbery carry different penalties.

Third Degree Robbery

Robbery is stealing forcibly. When a person uses physical force or poses a threat of force when stealing, they are guilty of robbery. The use or threat of force is aimed at preventing resistance to theft, and compelling the property owner to surrender the property. When robbery occurs without any aggravating factors, it is considered as third degree robbery. This offense is a Class D felony, and subjects one to an imprisonment of between 2-7 years.

Second Degree Robbery

This form of robbery involves forcibly stealing property with the help of another person. In the commission of the act, if you or your accomplice injuries an innocent victim, or displays something resembling a rifle, pistol, or some sort of firearm, it is second degree robbery. The object of theft in this class of robbery is a motor vehicle. Second degree robbery is a Class C felony, and subjects one to an imprisonment of between 7-15 years.

First Degree Robbery

One is guilty of committing first degree robbery when they forcibly take property, and when during the act of stealing, or flight from the crime scene, he/she or their accomplice does one of the following:

  • Causes serious physical harm to any innocent person
  • Has a deadly weapon
  • Either uses or threatens to use the weapon
  • Displays something resembling a rifle, pistol, or any kind of firearm

First degree robbery is a Class B felony that subjects one to an imprisonment of between 10-25 years.

Elements of Robbery

For a person to be convicted with robbery, there are three elements that the prosecution needs to establish. First, that the defendant committed theft, secondly, that they used or posed a threat to use physical force on the victim, and finally, that the crime was executed with the intent of permanently retaining the property.

Judgment Considerations

Apart from imprisonment, statutes may establish other kinds of punishment like community service, restitution, or fines. If a defendant cannot pay restitution, they may be required to compensate for their loss by performing community service.

The judges will consider the facts of a particular case along with any mitigating or aggravating factors to decide the exact sentence plus any penalties to impose on the defendant. When handing down judgment, the judge will consider the value of the property that has been stolen, the amount of intimidation or violence used, and the condition of the victim.

Aggravating factors make a crime serious while mitigating factors reduce the severity of a crime. The presence or use of a weapon during the commission of a robbery is an aggravating factor which increases the sentence handed down to a defendant. One’s criminal record is also considered an aggravating factor.

A mitigating factor in a robbery case involves things like whether one returned the property or owned up to their crime. If a person has no criminal record, this can also act as a mitigating factor.

Defenses to Robbery

The common defenses to robbery are as follows:

  • Duress
  • Mental defect
  • An unloaded weapon
  • Entrapment
  • Infancy- persons below 14 years

If you have been charged with robbery, there is cause for alarm because you could be facing a long time behind bars. Robbery is penalized depending on the severity of the crime; however, the least punishment is a one year prison sentence. Read on to learn more about what robbery entails, what needs to be proven, the different degrees of the crime and the punishment for each.

What is Robbery?

Robbery like theft implies taking a valuable item from someone. However, robbery involves using violence or force, or the threat of violence or force, during the execution of the offense.

Proof in a Robbery Charge

The basic elements needed to prove a robbery are as follows:

  • The object was taken with the intention of stealing
  • The object of theft is the property of another person
  • The object was taken from the owner in their presence
  • The object was taken against the will of the owner
  • The object was retrieved using force, or intimidation of force

3rd Degree Robbery

This form of robbery involves taking property through force or by using a lethal weapon. In most states, 3rd degree robbery is a felony. In New York, it is a “Class D” felony that subjects a person to seven years in prison. In other states, a person will be sentenced for 3rd degree robbery considering their criminal background. Additionally, some enhancements, known as aggravating factors, may raise the punishment for robbery. For example, if robbery involved assault with a lethal weapon, the penalty will be severe than a robbery committed without a weapon.

2nd Degree Robbery

This occurs when a person commits a robbery with the assistance of an accomplice. It also occurs when the perpetrator injures an innocent person or uses a deadly weapon like a knife or gun while executing the offense. Car theft is a typical example of this form of robbery.

In New York, 2nd degree robbery is a “Class C” felony that subjects a person to a maximum of fifteen years in prison.

1st Degree Robbery

A robbery is classified as first degree when the victim, or an innocent person, sustains serious injuries during the execution of the crime. This type of robbery also applies to cases where the perpetrator has a deadly weapon and intimidates the victim with it.

In New York, 1st degree robbery is a “Class B” felony that subjects a person to a maximum of twenty five years in prison.

Defenses for Robbery


In any criminal prosecution, such as a robbery, the government bears the burden of proof. This means that they should beyond any reasonable doubt that the accused committed the offense. This means that an accused robber can easily avoid being convicted by undermining the prosecution’s evidence. The defendant should not necessarily convince the court that they are innocent; however, provided they can cause reasonable doubt, they should be acquitted.


A defendant can use intoxication to fight a robbery charge. Involuntary intoxication is where the intoxication happened against the defendant’s will. Voluntary intoxication is where the defendant gets drunk willingly. The question arising in a defense based on voluntary intoxication is whether the defendant would have been able to form the intent of executing robbery. Such a defense would cause the defendant to get a lesser charge.


If a person provokes the defendant to commit robbery, the defendant can use the entrapment defense. Though these defenses are not easy to prove, if the defendant is able to show that the victim of a robbery provoked them with the intention of charging the defendant, the entrapment defense will hold.

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