Robbery is a crime in which anything of value is taken, or an attempt was made to take, by force, threat of force, or by causing the victim fear. Robbery is a form of felony theft and involves the use of harm. Robbery is often confused with burglary, which is the breaking and entering of a structure, but the two are different.
Robbery is generally a more serious criminal charge than other theft crimes, such as shoplifting or petty theft. Additionally, when a deadly weapon such as a gun is used or the victim suffers injury, the robbery may then be charged as armed or aggravated.
If the fake weapon can be reasonably believed to be real, then yes, robbery with a fake weapon is also considered a crime. In most jurisdictions, there is no need for an actual application of force in order for a theft to be considered a robbery. If the victim believes that they would be harmed if they did not cooperate, then that is usually good enough cause.
Therefore, most courts would consider using a fake weapon to be armed robbery, assuming that the victim reasonably believed that the weapon was real and not fake. Armed robbery can be defined as a theft that is accomplished through the use of a weapon.
Since robbery refers to theft achieved through force or threat of force, armed robbery can then be described as the defendant using a weapon to force/threaten to force a victim into handing over their money or property.
Additionally, if a toy gun is used during a robbery to strike a victim, the toy gun then actually becomes a weapon by legal definition. Thus, robbery with a fake weapon is often treated exactly the same as a case involving a real weapon.
It is important to remember that armed robbery is usually considered to be a felony charge. The value of what was stolen does not change that charge. As such, committing a robbery with a fake weapon will more than likely carry with it some fairly severe criminal consequences.
Some examples of these criminal consequences include jail time of up to fifteen years and probation, as well as fines that may reach $20,000. The defendant will usually face a minimum of one year in a prison facility.
If the victim was actually harmed during the course of the robbery, the defendant can expect a prison sentence lasting five to ten years. Further, juvenile offenders may also be tried as an adult for armed robbery charges.
To get a good idea of actual penalties, however, it is important to consider what “degree” the robbery is being assigned, based on the severity of the robbery:
- Third Degree Robbery: Third degree robbery is defined as using force or an offensive weapon to take a victim’s property. It is mostly classified by states as a felony.
- Sometimes, this sentencing is enhanced based on factors such as the defendant’s history and criminal record, or if assault with a deadly weapon happened during the robbery.
- Second Degree Robbery: Second degree robbery involves an accomplice being present during the robbery.
- This degree can also occur if the defendant causes injury to someone not involved in the robbery, or uses a gun, knife, or other deadly weapon during the robbery.
- First Degree Robbery: First degree robbery occurs when a robbery charge is elevated due to the victim, or someone else not involved in the crime, being seriously injured.
- First degree also happens when the defendant is armed with a deadly weapon and threatens to use it against the victim.
Other states may differentiate degrees of felonies, rather than degrees of theft crimes. For example, Texas considers robbery to be a second degree felony. There is a penalty of two to twenty years in a state prison, and/or a fine of up to (but no more than) $10,000. A more serious penalty of five to ninety-nine years in prison, and/or the same fine, is given when the crime is elevated to aggravated robbery.
Another potential penalty the defendant faces is loss of the right to own firearms in the future. Various factors influence a penalty such as this, like the state’s laws, the judge’s analysis of the danger involved while the robbery was being committed, etc. Additionally, some jurisdictions consider armed robbery to be a violent crime, even if no one was actually injured.
Some criminal defenses that may apply to robbery with a fake weapon include intoxication, mistaken identity (the robbery may have occurred, but the defendant did not do it), or coercion (a person was threatened and forced into committing the robbery).
Criminal charges, especially those for robbery and/or armed robbery, have severe and lasting legal penalties. A qualified and knowledgeable criminal defense attorney will provide you with needed legal guidance and representation in court. You will especially need their help with your defense if the crime involved the use of a weapon, including a fake weapon.