Strong arm robbery is a type of specific intent crime of larceny (theft). It is generally committed through the use of a weapon in combination with the threat of force, actual force, or intimidation. Larceny is legally defined a the unlawful taking and carrying away of a person’s property, with the intent to permanently deprive them of the property.

An example of strong arm robbery is when a person robs a bank with the use of a firearm and carries off some stolen cash. Another example is using a weapon to force a victim to hand over something of value, such as a money, wallet, purse, or vehicle.

Does Strong Arm Robbery Require the Use of a Gun?

No. The definition of strong arm robbery does not require the use of a gun or firearm to accomplish the robbery. For strong arm robbery, the weapon used can be anything, such as a knife, baseball bat, or explosive. The important aspect is that the victim felt they were in danger due to the presence of the weapon, causing them to hand over their property to be stolen. 

Does the Weapon Used Need to Be Real?

A weapon used in a strong arm robbery can be fake or even a toy. Again, the important part aspect is that the fake weapon is treated the same as a real weapon under the circumstances. That is, the victim should reasonably believe that the weapon is actually real, and that they will be harmed if they fail to comply with the robber’s demands or threats. 

In many strong arm robberies, the “weapon” used may actually be a toy gun, toy knife, or other fake weapon that has been painted or modified to make it appear real. An example of this is where the robber paints a toy gun before the robbery to make it look real. 

Most children’s toy guns have the tip painted orange to make it clear that it is a toy. In some strong arm robberies, the robber may paint the orange tip of toy gun black so that it can be used in a robbery. 

What if the Property Taken is not Technically in the Victim’s Possession?

Generally speaking, the victim does not have to be physically holding the property at the time it is taken from them in order for a strong arm robbery charge to be brought. The property must be close enough to the victim, and in their control enough in order for the robber to use intimidation or violence to obtain it. 

An example of this is where a person is using a laptop on a table outside of a cafe. If the laptop is sitting on the table near the person, but they are not holding it, and a person comes by with a weapon and threatens to take it, then it might be a case of strong arm robbery. This is true even if the person was not physically holding the laptop at the time of the robbery. 

What if the Property is Dropped Right After It is Taken?

For any type of theft crime to be considered a robbery, it must include the taking and carrying away of the property in question. This means the crime of robbery is considered complete once the individual acquires the victim’s property — even if it is only for a short period of time. 

Therefore in other words, if the robber takes the property and then drops it later, the robber has still committed a robbery, and can still be held criminally liable for such actions.

What are the Penalties for Strong Arm Robbery?

Strong arm robbery is generally considered a felony crime, especially if a deadly weapon was used. A deadly weapon is typically defined as any weapon that is designed or adapted for the purpose of inflicting death or serious bodily harm. Deadly weapons generally include guns, knives, and other implements such as billy clubs or even brass knuckles.  

 Penalties differ according to state law and from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but they may involve:

  • Prison sentences ranging from three to 20 years;
  • Fines; and/or
  • Loss of gun ownership privileges. 

Details regarding alternative sentencing options, probation, and parole may also be involved in sentencing for strong arm robbery charges. Again, these will differ according to state law, as well as the background of the defendant (for instance, whether they are a minor, or whether they have previous criminal charges on their record) or any possible mitigating circumstances. 

Are there Any Criminal Defenses to Strong Arm Robbery Charges?

As with any criminal charge, the defendant in a strong arm robbery may have a number of criminal defenses available to them. These will depend on the exact facts of the circumstances and details surrounding the robbery incident. 

One common defense is that of coercion. If the defendant was forced or coerced into committing a strong arm robbery, it might serve as a defense. An example of this is where the defendant was previously threatened with injury to them or to their family if they did not commit the strong arm robbery.

Another possible defense is that of intoxication. That is, if the person is intoxicated or under the influence at the time of the robbery, it might serve as a defense. Generally speaking, the intoxication must be such that it negates the criminal mindstate needed to be found guilty of strong arm robbery. The defense is strengthened if the person was intoxicated involuntarily or without their knowledge. 

Do I Need to Hire an Attorney for a Strong Arm Robbery Charge?

A felony strong arm robbery charge is serious and can result in severe criminal penalties. You may need to contact a criminal attorney to understand more about the defenses available to you in your area. Your criminal defense attorney can provide you with legal representation and advice for your case.