Armed robbery is a crime committed against a person. It can range in seriousness from a misdemeanor to a first-degree grand larceny charge. Armed robbery is the act of stealing from someone using a weapon. Therefore, it is the basic crime of robbery with a weapon component. In order to be charged with armed robbery, all the elements of robbery must be proven.
The legal definition of robbery is the “the taking and carrying away of the personal property of another, from his or her possession in their presence, against their will, by force.” It is explained as follows:
- The taking and carrying away – this means the thief actually obtained an item from the person’s possession or presence and seized it. (If the thief was only successful at intimidating the victim and not taking anything, this would only be an attempted armed robbery. An attempted armed robbery is a lesser offense. Thus, this would be used as a defense in hopes of getting the thief shorter sentence.)
- Of the personal property of another – you can not steal your own property from another. The property must belong to someone other than the thief.
- From his or her possession or in their presence– in order for the crime to be a robbery and not a burglary, the property must have been stolen in front of or directly off of the victim. If a thief broke into someone’s home and they didn’t know they were there, it would be a burglary. Stealing an item in the presence and by force is what makes this a robbery.
- Against their will – this means the victim did not give consent for the thief to take the property.
- By force – force can be any form of apprehension, actual violence, or threat of force.
Armed robbery does not necessarily have defenses. However, there are mitigating circumstances that will help lessen the amount of time sent in prison. Mitigating circumstances are factors that help lighten the chargers but do not necessarily justify the criminal activity. These are case by case factors and will not always apply, meaning they are not guaranteed. Mitigating circumstances depend on the laws of the state in which the crime was committed.
The merger doctrine which is discussed below is a mitigating circumstance offered when the crimes committed share the same elements. Additionally, the classification of a first, second or third-degree felony for the crime (which is discussed below as well), will also help to lighten the defendant’s sentence.
Often when a crime such as armed robbery is committed, other crimes such as assault and battery are simultaneously committed. The merger doctrine keeps you from being charged with both all three crimes. Essentially, the merger doctrine allows crimes that have the same elements to merge with one another. You will then only be charged the crimes with different components.
The following is a bold overview to better understand the merger doctrine. Assault elements are to intentionally place someone in fear. Battery elements are to intentionally cause a harmful or offensive touching. Lastly, the first few elements of armed robbery are to intentionally place someone in fear by force. The elements of both assault and battery are within the elements of armed robbery; therefore they merge into the single crime of armed robbery. You are now charged with the greater of the three offenses, armed robbery and not assault and battery.
Armed robbery can range from a first-degree felony where a victim was beaten with life-threatening injuries, to a third-degree felony where the victim was not injured. A felony sentence is usually coupled with a prison sentence and a fine. The charges involved in armed robbery are serious and will attach to your record. Additionally, when a crime is committed using a deadly weapon the privileges to carry a firearm might be revoked.
Also, as discussed above, the classification of armed robbery is a mitigating circumstance to help lighten your sentence. Therefore, depending on the state laws, the type of weapon used in an armed robbery might help when classifying the felony.
State laws vary; therefore the type of weapon used in an armed robbery may change the charges you are facing. Keep in mind, in some states the mere fact that a weapon was used will elevate the sentence. A great example of this is, in many states, it does not matter if the gun used was real or just a toy. The fact that the victims thought they were being robbed with a gun is enough for an armed robbery charge.
Lastly, the weapon being used does not have to be a gun. However, if something less than a deadly weapon is used to commit the crime, this may help to get a shorter sentence.
Armed robbery is a very serious felony. If you are facing this charge you will need a criminal defense attorney. Your attorney will help explain your charges, the classification level of your felony, and any mitigating circumstances that are available to you.