Robbery in common law is defined as taking away another’s property with the intention to deprive the owner permanently of that property, by means of force or fear. It is distinct from other forms of theft such as burglary, car theft, shoplifting, etc. Robbery is always a felony and is capable only of being resolved in an indictment – a particular legal forum. Indictment is a written accusation that charges an individual of committing an act or omitting to do something that is punishable by law.
One of the most common types of criminal cases in Philadelphia is robbery.
Elements of robbery
Section 3701(a) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes states that the elements constituting a crime of robbery are:
- The act of a person committing a robbery causing serious bodily injury upon another or intimidating another who willfully fears being directly subjected to the threat. He perpetuates or threatens his victim directly committing as a 1st or 2nd degree felony. By inflicting intentionally bodily injury or threats, the other person is fearful of immediate bodily injury. A robber actually carries or removes property belonging to another person using force regardless of how minimal.
- Any act committed during the process of the robbery that happens when thievery is committed or trying to flee from the site after an attempt or commission of the act.
Statute of criminal robbery:
Robbery in Pennsylvania requires two acts: (1) the act needs to be an unlawful taking; and (2) robbery requires an element of threat involving force/injury or actual injury. Actual injury is either serious bodily injury or non- serious bodily injury.
According to Pennsylvania’s robbery law under Section 3701(b), the crime is graded as felony of the 1st, 2nd or 3rd degree depending on the amount of force used.
First degree robbery requires theft plus one of the following: serious bodily injury; threat of serious bodily injury; or the commission or immediate threat to commit another 1st or 2nd degree felony as robbery during the commission of a sexual assault.
This example illustrates Section (a)(iii). An individual takes property as money, guns, drugs, etc. from another person and threatens to kill him if the property is not turned over. Sometimes, the robbery involves a theft in which the owner is as he falls and hits their head on the pavement. If he sustains head injury that results in serious permanent symptoms, the thief is charged with robbery in the first degree.
This example illustrates robbery charged with 2nd degree. – An individual steals a valuable object then knocks the owner/other individual in the process and he falls down and twists his arm. This simple fracture is already considered a bodily injury and is charged as robbery in the second degree. Thief + requires bodily injury, or + the threat of bodily injury.
This example illustrates robbery charged with3rd degree. – An individual pilfers a valuable object and in the process, knocks the person down. However, no injuries result.
Penalties for armed robbery
Penalties for robbery are determined by the degree of felony that has allegedly been committed. All robbery charges result to a fine and a jail sentence. First degree robbery conviction is 20 years incarceration plus fines of up to $25,000. Second degree is 10 years imprisonment sentence and a third degree 5 years behind bars with proportionately less fines.
Facing robbery charges
Facing charges of robbery, burglary or theft in Pennsylvania is a serious matter. To help you defend yourself and protect your constitutional rights, you need the expertise of an experienced Pennsylvania criminal attorney. Trying to defend yourself without legal representation is like going to the battlefield without weapon. You might be charged with even a more serious offense than you deserve and face greater penalties than you need to. Since these are all charges of criminal offenses, you might spend years and years behind bars and a hefty fine. A 2nd or 3rd time conviction means more severe penalties.
Any illegal conviction is an obstacle that you and your family will have to face for the rest of your life as it limits your opportunity for a job in the future.