Most people think of robbery as taking money or property from someone else. They sometimes consider robbery involving a weapon of some kind. If a weapon is used, then it’s usually considered armed robbery or aggravated. When a court charges someone with robbery, one element that must be present is that a victim was present at the time of the crime. The victim is threatened with bodily harm or is injured by the defendant. An example would be someone approaching another from behind and demanding the person’s wallet or another valuable that the person has in his possession. The victim fears that the defendant has a gun or another type of weapon and surrenders the wallet. There would be a robbery charge, but if the defendant would have had a gun or another weapon, then it would be raised to armed or aggravated robbery. Robbery in the United States dates back to older English laws. There are many areas that have included definitions of robbery in penal codes according to FindLaw, but the common law definition usually still applies today as it did during times when old English law ruled the land.
There are a few different elements involved with robbery for the charge to stand in court. Each state defines robbery in a different way, so there are various punishments that could be delivered and various charges that could be filed depending on the statutes set forth by the state. Basic components of robbery include taking, with an intent to steal, of personal property from a person against that person’s will by either violence or intimidation and a threat of violence. To summarize, robbery is taking someone’s property using the threat of violence or a violent act. There is an issue of timing when it comes to robbery charges since the element of violence needs to be present in some form or another according to FindLaw. In the event that the robber uses violence only when fleeing the scene after being discovered, then the charges might include resisting arrest or larceny instead of robbery.
Even a minimal amount of violence would result in a robbery charge as long as it’s present. The amount required to upgrade a theft charge to robbery depends on the victim and the overall situation. If there is a minimal amount of violence required to force the victim to give up personal possessions, then a robbery has occurred. An example would be a larger man overtaking someone who is elderly. If the robber is trying to take a purse from someone, there is a bit of resistance on the part of the victim, but there is also a threat of violence at some point as the defendant takes the purse away. A judge might find that robbery hasn’t occurred if the defendant successfully takes the purse without any aggravating factors involved.
There are a few different degrees of robbery that you want to keep in mind. Robbery in the first degree is usually seen as a felony. It could elevate to a first-degree felony if a weapon is involved or if the defendant attempts to kill someone or if a serious injury occurs. A federal robbery would occur if the victim is a bank. This is considered a federal crime and often results in a stronger punishment.
The penalties seen with a robbery charge vary based on each state and the severity of the crime. The judge will also take the defendant’s criminal history into account. Most states have statutes that they go by with a range of punishments available instead of just one specific punishment for the crime committed. An example would be two to three years instead of four years as a set time frame, leaving the decision to the discretion of the judge. Some states will set a choice of sentences instead of a range, allowing the judge to pick one of the choices that fit the crime and the history of the defendant. Along with a prison sentence, the defendant is normally ordered to pay restitution to the victim as well as fines to the state. Community service is also an option to go along with jail time once the defendant is released. Probation is an option for sentencing, but it’s not seen in many cases unless the robbery was committed because the defendant was forced.
When someone is charged with robbery, it’s important to seek the assistance of an attorney, such as one with Spodek Law Group. The attorney will look at the history of the defendant and the factors contributing to the robbery charge. If the attorney can offer an alibi for the defendant, then a defense of innocence can be used. Intoxication could also be used as a defense where the defendant was unaware of his actions at the time.