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The Spodek Law Group understands how delicate high-profile cases can be, and has a strong track record of getting positive outcomes. Our lawyers service a clientele that is nationwide. With offices in both LA and NYC, and cases all across the country - Spodek Law Group is a top tier law firm.

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New York Robbery Charges Explained

By Spodek Law Group | February 13, 2023
(Last Updated On: July 27, 2023)

Last Updated on: 27th July 2023, 06:30 pm

New York Robbery Charges: Understanding the Differences

When it comes to New York robbery charges, the legal definition of robbery involves the forceful taking of someone else’s property. It’s like a math equation, where robbery equals the sum of Petit Larceny (PL 155.25) and Assault in the Third Degree (PL 120.00). However, under New York law, robbery also includes preventing resistance in the taking of the property and compelling the owner to give the property or engage in conduct that aids in larceny.

The Three Degrees of Robbery in New York

New York law recognizes three degrees of robbery charges, each with varying degrees of severity. These include:

Robbery in the Third Degree (PL 160.05)
Robbery in the Second Degree (PL 160.10)
Robbery in the First Degree (PL 160.15)
All of these charges are felonies and come with serious jail time.

Understanding the Differences in New York Robbery Charges

While all robbery charges in New York are serious, there are differences between them. Robbery in the Third Degree is the least serious, while Robbery in the First Degree is the most severe. The degree of robbery charge that applies to your case will depend on the extent of injuries to a non-participant, the use and type of weapon, and the number of individuals participating in the robbery.

New York Robbery in the Third Degree (PL 160.05)

Under New York Penal Law, a person is guilty of Robbery in the Third Degree when they forcibly steal property. Since this legal definition is broad, any forceful taking of someone else’s property in New York qualifies as Robbery in the Third Degree.

Penalties and Sentencing for NY Robbery in the Third Degree:

Robbery in the Third Degree is a class D non-violent felony that can result in up to 2 1/3 to 7 years in prison. However, probation, a conditional discharge, or a determinate sentence of 1 year are also possible sentences.

New York Robbery in the Second Degree (PL 160.10)

Robbery in the Second Degree is a more serious charge than Robbery in the Third Degree because it has additional aggravating elements. Under New York Penal Law Section 160.10, a person is guilty of Robbery in the Second Degree when they forcibly steal property and when:

They are aided by another person actually present in committing the robbery
In the course of the crime or in the flight from it, they cause physical injury to a non-participant, display a firearm, or steal a motor vehicle
In New York, the display of what appears to be a firearm is enough to constitute a Robbery in the Second Degree charge.

Penalties and Sentencing for NY Robbery in the Second Degree:

Robbery in the Second Degree is a Class C violent felony that can result in 3 1/2 to 15 years in prison. Unlike Robbery in the Third Degree, probation or a conditional discharge are not authorized sentences.

New York Robbery in the First Degree (PL 160.15)

Robbery in the First Degree is the most serious of all New York robbery charges. It involves the forcible stealing of property and either causing serious physical injury to a non-participant or displaying a deadly weapon such as a firearm.

Penalties and Sentencing for NY Robbery in the First Degree:

Robbery in the First Degree is a Class B violent felony that can result in 5

Robbery in the First Degree in New York: The Elements You Need to Know

New York Penal Law Section 160.15 defines Robbery in the First Degree as an act of forcefully stealing property while causing serious physical injury to a non-participant, being armed with a deadly weapon, using or threatening the immediate use of a dangerous instrument, or displaying a firearm. Anyone who commits such an act or is involved in the immediate flight can be found guilty of the crime.

Defending Against Robbery in the First Degree Charges

There are several defenses that can be used against charges of Robbery in the First Degree in New York.

Mistaken Identity

The defense of mistaken identity is a common one, especially in cases where the victim and the accused are strangers. The defense argues that although a crime occurred, the wrong person was arrested. This defense can only be successful if there is no other evidence that connects the client to the crime. For instance, if the victim’s wallet is found in the accused’s pants pocket, arguing mistaken identification will be difficult.


Another defense to Robbery charges is establishing an alibi. If the client can prove that they were elsewhere when the robbery took place, they cannot be the one who committed the crime. An alibi can be established through witness statements, cell phone records, credit card receipts, GPS records, and EZ pass receipts. However, the prosecution must be given alibi notice within a short time period after arraignment if the alibi defense is to be asserted at trial.


If a defendant was forced to participate in the robbery and only did so to avoid physical harm to themselves or someone close to them, they can use the defense of duress. Duress argues that the accused would not have committed the crime if they were not threatened with harm.

Penalties and Sentencing for NY Robbery in the First Degree

Robbery in the First Degree is a class B violent felony in New York and is punishable by imprisonment for 5 to 25 years.

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