Criminal Law 101: What Exactly is Robbery?

burglar with crowbar breaking the door to enter the house

Robbery is one of the most well-known, but typically misunderstood crimes. It varies from similar theft offenses such as burglary and larceny since it involves taking another individual’s property via some form of intimidation or force.

Because every state gets to assign definitions of criminal offenses, the specific elements of robbery will differ from one state to another state. Generally speaking, however, committing robbery involves an individual taking another individual’s property or money against his or her will via the use of threats, intimidation, force, or violence.

Do note though that in some jurisdictions, individuals can be found guilty of robbery even if he or she didn’t get to take another individual’s property or money. For instance, if you attempted to take cash from another individual and used violence, you could be found guilty of the crime even you didn’t manage to get the cash.

The Different Robbery Degrees

Most states ascribe different degrees or grades to robbery, and the punishment differs between these degrees or grades. This is very crucial to your case so make sure that you discuss this at length with your defense attorney in Everett.

That being said, the circumstances surrounding a robbery will determine what degree or grade the crime is. A case of simple or standard robbery, as defined above, usually turns into a first degree or aggravated robbery given the presence of certain factors like brandishing a weapon or causing injury.

Robbing an individual with a deadly weapon is also sometimes called armed robbery. The weapon’s danger level, think handgun vs. knife, could elevate the degree of the crime further.

What You Should Know About Sequencing

Seemingly negligible distinctions in the specific circumstances that surround the robbery could make significant differences in the case. For example, the specific instance the defendant utilized violence or force.

Let’s say that Bernard casually strolls around an electronics store, grabbing tiny items as he goes and hiding them in his jacket. Once he’s done with his shopping spree, he passes the register but doesn’t stop to pay for the items and instead goes out the door.

Unbeknownst to Bernard, Natalie, the security guard saw everything. Natalie then stops Bernard outside the exit, identifies herself, informs Bernard that she saw him stealing stuff, and puts her hand on Bernard’s shoulder. Bernard takes a step back and hurls himself on Natalie.

The two fight each other until other people stop the fight. Both individuals are left with injuries.

So What Happened to Bernard?

judge discussing a case in the court

The judge charges Bernard with aggravated robbery because he took items from the store via force that caused injury to Natalie. But another judge might find Bernard not guilty of robbery, but theft and probably assault as well because while he used force and stole property, he only utilized force after taking the store property.

The elements of robbery and its potential consequences could differ from one state to the next, and since it’s considered a felony, you could expect that the punishments would be harsh. So make sure to have a reputable criminal defense attorney on your side.

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