Washington State Robbery Lawyers

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 What is Robbery?

In general, the crime of robbery is defined as an act that either involves the intent to take or an intent to attempt to take valuable property from another individual by threat or use of force. The legal consequences, the definition, and the elements of proof to demonstrate that a defendant is guilty of committing robbery are subject to change based on the jurisdiction.

Robbery is sometimes referred to as felony theft or larceny by force or threat. It may also be categorized according to degree and by the conditions that were present during the commission of the crime.

For example, a defendant may be charged and convicted of robbery in the first degree if they steal property from another person while armed with a deadly weapon like a gun. The name of the crime in this type of scenario will also change from standard robbery to that of armed robbery.

In addition, a defendant can also be charged and convicted of committing robbery if they threaten to use force, but are not actually carrying a weapon on their person. This is known as “strong arm robbery”, which can result in federal charges when used in certain circumstances like if a defendant says they have a gun while attempting to rob a bank that is registered with the Federal Reserve System.

Finally, if you are facing charges for robbery, strong arm robbery, or armed robbery, you should speak to a local criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Depending on the severity of your robbery charges, a conviction could potentially result in large criminal fines and/or a prison sentence. This is especially true in cases where your robbery constitutes a federal offense.

How Is Robbery Defined in Washington State?

Similar to the generic definition for robbery that was discussed above, the state of Washington defines the crime of robbery using the following elements:

  • The unlawful taking of personal property from another individual;
  • Against the will of the individual; and
  • By use or threatened use of immediate violence, fear of injury, or force to that individual, property that belongs to the individual, or to a third party or the property of a third party.

In addition, the degree of force that a defendant uses when committing the robbery does not matter. The only factor that does matter is that the defendant used force or fear to obtain or retain possession of another individual’s property. Alternatively, a defendant can also be charged with this crime if they used fear or force to prevent or overcome the resistance of another individual when they engaged in the taking of property from an individual.

What is First Degree Robbery?

According to the Revised Code of Washington (“RCW”), which is the title given to the current collection of active statutes in Washington state, robbery in the first degree is described as a criminal act that occurs when:

  • During the commission of a robbery or the immediate fleeing from the scene of a robbery the defendant is either:
    • Armed with a deadly weapon,
    • Inflicts bodily injury upon another, or
    • Brandishes what appears to be a firearm or another deadly weapon; or
  • The defendant commits a robbery against or within a financial institution, which includes any of the following state institutions that are lawfully engaged in financial business, such as any:
    • State bank,
    • Trust company,
    • Stock savings bank,
    • Mutual savings bank,
    • National banking association, or
    • Savings and loan association.

It is important to note that robbery in the first degree is charged as a class A felony in Washington state. Class A felonies are considered the most serious degree of robbery crimes. Thus, a defendant who is convicted of committing first degree robbery in Washington state, will likely be facing severe forms of punishment, such as prison and heavy fines.

In addition, the RCW provides two separate charges to distinguish the difference between robbery in the first and second degrees. The factors that are applied to separate robbery in the first degree from robbery in the second degree will be discussed in greater detail in the next section below.

Does Washington State Have a Second Degree Robbery Charge?

As discussed in the last section, the state of Washington does provide charges for robbery in the second degree. Specifically, the RCW defines robbery in the second degree as when it can be proven that a defendant has committed a robbery. The RCW categorizes robbery in the second degree as a class B felony.

Although the penalties for a class B felony are less severe than those assigned to crimes categorized as a class A felony, it is nevertheless considered a felony offense. Thus, a defendant who is convicted of this crime is likely facing at least one full year in a Washington state prison facility, if not longer.

What is the Punishment for Robbery?

In general, the crime of robbery can result in charges for either a misdemeanor or a felony offense. In Washington state, however, the majority of robbery convictions lead to punishments that are reserved for felony crimes. This is because both degrees of robbery are classified as felony offenses under the RCW. Whether a defendant is charged with robbery in the first or second degree will turn on the facts surrounding each individual case.

Felony crimes often lead to mandatory sentencing minimums, such as a set amount of criminal fines or a set number of years in state prison, regardless of the state. A defendant who is convicted on felony charges can face a sentence that ranges from anywhere between one to up to twenty years of imprisonment.

In Washington, whether a defendant is charged and convicted of committing a class B felony or a class A felony will be contingent on if a weapon was used in the course of committing the robbery. The severity of the punishment may also depend on if the defendant is a repeat or first-time offender.

The average sentence for a first-time robbery offender falls somewhere in between 31 to up to 41 months in state prison, which is roughly three to four years’ imprisonment. Repeat offenders can face up to fifteen years, whereas defendants who are on their third strike can get a life sentence. As for the total amount of criminal fines that a defendant who is found guilty of committing a robbery will have to pay, those can go as high as $50,000 or more.

In addition, if a defendant targeted a bank when committing the robbery, they will not only be facing fines and jail time, but they can also be convicted and punished in accordance with federal sentencing guidelines. Federal sentencing guidelines tend to be stricter than state sentencing penalties.

Therefore, it is very important that a criminal defendant understand the legal consequences they may be facing when charged with a robbery crime. In criminal cases, a prosecutor will usually recommend the sorts of punishments that a judge should take into consideration when sentencing a defendant.

To gain further clarity on Washington state sentencing guidelines for robbery, a defendant should consult a local criminal defense attorney immediately for legal advice.

Should I Talk to a Lawyer about My Robbery Charge in Washington State?

If you are facing charges for robbery in the state of Washington, then it is strongly recommended that you hire a Washington criminal lawyer who practices in your county as soon as possible. A Washington lawyer who has experience in handling robbery cases will be able to inform you of your rights as a criminal defendant under the relevant state statutes. They can offer advice on the best way to proceed with your robbery case.

Your lawyer will be able to assist you in building a defensive argument against your charges and can provide legal representation before a criminal court. Your lawyer will also be able to determine whether there are any other defenses that you can raise to help get the robbery charges against you either partially reduced or completely dropped. In addition, your lawyer can try to negotiate a plea deal with a prosecutor if the circumstances in your case warrant it.

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