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.
Apart from imprisonment, statues 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:
- Mental defect
- An unloaded weapon
- Infancy- persons below 14 years