Robbery with a Fake Weapon

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 What is Robbery?

Robbery is a crime where anything of value was taken or an individual attempted to take the property by:

  • Force;
  • Threat of force; or
  • By causing the victim fear.

Robbery is a type of felony theft which involves the use of harm. Robbery can be confused with burglary, which is the breaking and entering into a structure with the intent to commit a felony therein. However, these two crimes are different.

Robbery is typically a more serious criminal charge than other types of theft crimes, such as shoplifting or petty theft. In addition, when a deadly weapon, which may include a firearm or a knife, is used or the victim suffers an injury, the robbery charge may be elevated to armed or aggravated robbery.

Is Robbery with a Fake Weapon Considered a Crime as Well?

Yes, robbery with a fake weapon can be considered a crime. If it would be reasonable to believe that the fake weapon was real, then yes, it can be considered a crime as well.

In many jurisdictions, there is not a need for the actual use of force in order for the theft to be considered a robbery. If a victim believes that they would be injured or harmed if they did not cooperate, that is typically enough.

Because of this, the majority of courts would consider a defendant using a fake weapon to be an armed robbery, assuming that the victim reasonably believed that the weapon was not fake and was real. Armed robbery can also be defined as a theft which is accomplished by the use of a weapon.

Because robbery refers to a theft which is achieved by the threat of force or use of force, an armed robbery can then be described as a defendant using a weapon to threaten to force or to force a victim into handing over their property or money. In addition, if a toy gun is used during the robbery to strike the victim, then the toy gun becomes a weapon by legal definition. Therefore, robbery with a fake weapon is typically treated the same as a robbery involving a real weapon.

What are Some of the Penalties for Robbery with a Fake Weapon?

It is important to note that armed robbery is typically considered to be a felony charge. The value of the property or money that was stolen does not change that charge.

Therefore, committing a robbery with a fake weapon will typically carry similar severe criminal consequences as does a robbery charge using a real weapon. Some examples of the consequences a defendant may face if they are convicted of robbery include:

  • A prison sentence of up to 15 years;
  • Criminal fines up to $20,000;
  • Probation; or
  • A combination of these punishments.

If a victim is actually harmed during the course of a robbery, a defendant can expect a prison sentence which lasts between 5 and 10 years. In addition, a juvenile offender may be tried as an adult for armed robbery charges. In order to have an understanding of actual penalties, it is important to consider what degree of robbery is being assigned, based on the severity of the crime. This may include:

  • Third degree robbery;
  • Second degree robbery; and
  • First degree robbery.

Third degree robbery is defined as using force or an offensive weapon to take a victim’s property. In most states, this is a felony. In some cases, the sentencing for this crime is enhanced based upon factors include:

  • The defendant’s history;
  • The defendant’s criminal record; and
  • Whether or not an assault with a deadly weapon occurred during the robbery.

In a second degree robbery, an accomplice is present during the commission of the crime. A second degree robbery may also occur if a defendant causes an individual who is not involved in the robbery to be injured or uses a knife, gun, or other deadly weapon in the commission of the robbery.

First degree robbery occurs when the robbery charge is elevated because the victim, or another individual who was not involved in the crime, was seriously injured. This type of robbery also occurs when a defendant is armed with a deadly weapon and threatens to use it against the victim.

Some states may differ regarding the degrees of felony classifications rather than the degrees of theft crimes. For example, Texas classifies robbery as a second degree felony.

For a second degree felony in Texas, the penalty includes 2 to 20 years in state prison and the possibility of criminal fines of up to $10,000. If the crime is elevated to aggravated robbery, a more serious penalty of 5 to 95 years in prison and the possibility of criminal fines up to $10,000 may be imposed.

A defendant may also face the potential loss of the right to own firearms in the future. There are various factors which influence a penalty, including:

  • The laws of the state;
  • The court’s analysis of the dangers involved while the robbery was being committed; and
  • Other relevant factors.

In addition, some jurisdictions consider armed robbery to be a violent crime, even if there were no actual physical injuries. There may be criminal defenses that apply to the charge of armed robbery with a fake weapon. These will be similar to those available in a robbery charge involving a real weapon, since they are treated similarly, as noted above.

Are there Legal Defenses to Robbery?

Due to the violent nature of a robbery, the majority of states consider it to be a serious crime and treat it accordingly. A defendant, however, may have some legal defenses which they can utilize, depending on the circumstances of their case. These may include:

  • Burden of proof: The prosecution has the burden of proof to show every element of the crime is met beyond a reasonable doubt;
  • Lack of evidence: The prosecution must also provide evidence that the defendant was the one who committed the robbery;
  • Actual innocence: In some cases, the defendant may be able to provide proof that it was impossible for them to commit the crime, such as proof that they were in a different location at the time it occurred;
  • Intoxication: This is an affirmative defense. If a defendant is involuntarily intoxicated, it may be a valid defense. If, however, they were voluntarily intoxicated, it may cause the charges to be reduced;
  • Duress: The duress defense may be available if a defendant was forced by threat of death or bodily injury to commit the crime. This can be difficult to prove; and
  • True owner: This defense is available when the defendant can prove either that they were the true owner of the property or that they reasonably believed they were the true owner of the property which they took.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Charges Involving Robbery with a Fake Weapon?

It is essential to have the assistance of a criminal defense attorney if you are facing robbery with a fake weapon charge. Criminal charges of any type, especially those for robbery and armed robbery may have severe and lasting consequences.

Your attorney can review your case, determine what defenses may be available to you, and represent you when you are required to appear in court. An attorney will be especially important for charges involving a weapon, including a fake weapon.

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