In 2021, 202,200 armed robbery cases were reported in the United States. It’s a significant drop compared to the 687,730 cases reported in 1991.
Despite this considerable decrease in robberies, each number in this statistic represents a person whose life may have been drastically altered because of the crime.
What is armed robbery, and how does it differ from a robbery charge? What punishments, penalties, and consequences can a person charged with this criminal lawsuit face?
This article discusses the law on armed robbery and explores the penalties and punishments associated with a successful conviction.
This article also includes legal examples of armed robbery cases that can give insight into the workings of the justice process.
If you need an inmate or facility locator to get your loved one’s records which may be required when reexamining an armed robbery charge or conviction, visit LookUpInmate.org.
This site gives you access to an extensive database of more than 7,000 correction facilities in the United States. You’ll also get links to a specific prison’s websites to obtain the necessary documents.
Have You Been Charged With Armed Robbery?
An armed robbery charge is not a simple issue. You may be facing a felony charge that can result in you spending time in prison.
If you’re facing an armed robbery, you should know everything about this charge, including what it covers. You should also be aware if all elements of the crime are present in your case.
As the term indicates, armed robbery is aggravated theft that involves using deadly weapons to threaten and intimidate people.
Armed robbery is a serious crime. In a theft or robbery case, prosecutors usually pinpoint their case-building by highlighting your use of lethal weapons and the threat and intimidation you’ve caused on your victims.
Law on Armed Robbery
In most cases, states treat armed robbery as a serious felony. Most states regard theft with lethal weapons as first-degree robbery, first-degree grand larceny, or aggravated robbery.
When convicted of a serious offense like armed robbery, you’ll need the help and support of a competent criminal defense lawyer to handle the case.
Armed Robbery As a Felony
When dealing with felony cases like armed robbery, prosecutors look at the following aggravating factors:
- The value of the property stolen
- The level of threat or violence done
- The nature of the victim to reach a suitable punishment
Note that the nature of the victim here refers to people in a protected class like women, senior adults, people covered by anti-discrimination laws, minorities, and children.
In some states, the use of lethal weapons makes theft an aggravated robbery case, while some make it an entirely different charge.
A typical armed robbery conviction may lead to at least 20 years of prison time. The severity of the sentence may depend on how armed the criminal is and the threat they’ve caused to victims.
Armed Robbery vs. Robbery Charges
Robbery is theft or stealing using force and intimidation. When you steal something without the owner’s knowledge, it’s theft. However, if you forcibly steal something of value from a victim, it’s considered robbery.
Common Law Robbery Charges
The term “common law” means unwritten laws based on legal precedents. Although not written, common law is established by the courts and can be used for decision-making in cases with no existing legal prescription.
States have different ways of determining the severity of a robbery case. However, all robberies should have these two elements.
- Theft from a victim’s person or presence: You can be charged with a robbery case if you’ve stolen something from a victim’s person or presence.
For instance, forcibly taking a purse or wallet from a victim is stealing something from a victim’s person.
If you’re stealing something from a cash register and the owner sees you doing it, you can be charged with robbery because you’re stealing from a victim’s presence.
If you stole something while no one was around, you’d be charged with theft or burglary, not robbery.
- Theft using threats or violence: Another element of robbery involves threatening victims that you may use force or violence if they don’t cooperate. Here are some factors that define what use of force or violence is:
- Using physical force to intimidate, threaten or coerce (physical force includes punching and kicking)
- Snatching property or items from a person
- Subjecting victims to fear of serious bodily injuries
Robbery With a Dangerous Weapon Charges
When a robbery is carried out with dangerous weapons, it will escalate quickly into a violent crime. If someone uses a firearm or a knife when stealing a victim’s personal property, that falls under robbery using dangerous weapons. You can now be charged with aggravated battery.
Penalties for Robbery, Armed Robbery, and Aggravated Robbery
States view robbery as a serious felony and have different penalties depending on their policies. However, theft is typically tried as a misdemeanor or felony. Here are some examples of robbery sentences adopted by various states.
A first-offense robbery charge in Arizona carries a minimum prison sentence of one year. For third-offense robbery charges, the maximum prison term is 15 years. Fines and penalties for robberies can range from $750 to $150,000.
The prison terms for aggravated robbery in Arizona range from a minimum of two years for a first offense to a maximum of 15 years imprisonment for a third offense. The fines and penalties for an aggravated robbery charge can range from $750 to $150,000.
There’s a fine line between armed robbery and aggravated robbery. If a suspect carries out a robbery and causes serious physical injury to the victim so that they’ll comply, it’s aggravated robbery.
However, if the suspect carries a deadly or dangerous weapon during a robbery, it’s considered armed robbery.
Bond for Armed Robbery
There are instances when bond or bail is not automatically available. In the case of armed robbery in Florida, one convicted of armed robbery is not entitled to bail if it involves a firearm.
However, other states may have other policies towards armed robbery convicts posting bail.
Here are some examples of robbery, aggravated robbery, and armed robbery cases resolved in the courts.
In Magana-Gonzalez v. State, the court found that threats made by an assailant were enough for the defendant to be found guilty of armed robbery. On July 25, 2004, Juan Fraire, the plaintiff, was lying in the living room he shared with Jorge Magana-Gonzalez and Misael de Jesus Rivera.
Magana-Gonzalez and Rivera went to the kitchen to cook food that day. Afterward, Magana-Gonzalez went to the living room to borrow $20 from Fraire, which he refused. Magana-Gonzalez again asked Fraire if he could borrow $15, but the victim refused. Fraire agreed to loan Magana-Gonzalez $2 instead.
Fraire reached into his pocket to get the money when Magana-Gonzalez pulled out a steak knife and threatened to stab Fraire if he didn’t give him money. After this, Rivera and Magana-Gonzalez frisked Fraire. Rivera untied Fraire’s shoelace with the intent to tie him up, but Fraire tried to run.
The two defendants managed to stop Fraire from running away, and Magana-Gonzalez punched the victim’s face. Magana-Gonzalez threw the steak knife on the bed and took $160 from Fraire.
Fraire then went to his sister-in-law, where he called law enforcement. A few days later, the defendants were caught and put on trial. Magana-Gonzalez argued that he never harmed the victim with the knife.
However, the court found that his hurting Fraire with a knife is not required to be guilty of armed robbery. Magana-Gonzalez threatening Fraire with a knife is sufficient to establish the element of intimidation. Magana-Gonzalez was convicted of armed robbery.
Here’s the case of LeMon v. State, where Jerome LeMon was convicted of armed robbery and aggravated assault because he threatened two victims using a knife.
In April 2006, Jerome LeMon attended a party where he interviewed female partygoers using a hand-held camera and asking inappropriate questions. The party’s host was not okay with LeMon’s behavior and made him leave the social gathering, which LeMon did.
He got inside a car with two other men. While in the car, LeMon got into a heated argument with the two men that went with him. The discussion became violent, and one of the passengers threatened LeMon that he would call 911.
In response, LeMon demanded the passenger give up his cell phone, or he would stab him in the heart with the knife in his pocket.
The passenger did what LeMon said and gave his cell phone. LeMon then threw the phone on the car floor. He also demanded the other person surrender his phone. Once the other passenger did, LeMon threw the phone on the floor.
However, a struggle happened in the car resulting in LeMon getting punched by one of the passengers. The two men got off LeMon’s car and eventually went to a second car trailing nearby. The victims managed to call 911 using another phone.
The altercation ended with the police arresting LeMon and getting hold of the knife he used to threaten the two victims.
The court ruled that LeMon using the knife to threaten someone to surrender their possession is already a clause for an armed robbery charge.
Armed Robbery Defenses
The judge or jury’s decision is only as accurate as the strength of evidence supplied in the case. Without direct evidence implicating you in a crime, it’ll be hard for the prosecution to pursue a lawsuit.
Here are some defenses that people have used before when confronted with an armed robbery lawsuit.
- The first defense is the burden of proof: The prosecution has the burden of proof. In a criminal case, especially when a conviction means deprivation of freedom, the court requires the highest standard of evidence that is “beyond a reasonable doubt.” The prosecution must provide strong evidence to win a case.
- The lack of evidence: This defense is tied with the first strategy in this list. The lack of evidence is a major blow to the prosecution’s attempt to seek a conviction.
- Innocence: The best defense against any criminal lawsuit is evidence of innocence. You can establish innocence by having a good alibi. An alibi is evidence showing that a person can’t have done the crime because they’re somewhere else at the time of the criminal act.
- Intoxication: Sometimes, you can cite intoxication to lessen the charge in an armed robbery case. However, intoxication may result in other cases, like driving under the influence or DUI.
- True ownership: You can’t steal what you legally own. If a defendant can establish that the stolen items belonged to them, then it’s a valid defense.
- Duress: Another defense a defendant can make is the claim of duress or being in a state of being forced or compelled to do something they don’t want.
What Does Not Constitute a Defense
In some cases, defendants cite reasons or alibis they can’t use as a defense. Here are some defenses that won’t stand in court.
1. The defendant didn’t show any weapon: Moody v. State proved that not showing a weapon when threatening someone is not a defense against an armed robbery lawsuit.
If the defendant’s action establishes to the victim that he has a deadly weapon, whether present or not, the defendant is liable.
The court reiterates that a person may commit armed robbery if:
a. The person has the intent to commit theft
b. The property was taken from a person or in the presence of another
c. The defendant used an “offensive” weapon, a replica, article, or device having the appearance of such a weapon.
2. The weapon was just a toy: Going back to the point stated in this list’s first item. Using a replica of an offensive weapon to threaten a victim to surrender their property, you can be liable for an armed robbery charge.
Benefits of Having a Lawyer
Consult a criminal defense attorney to guide you through the complex legal proceedings when confronted with a criminal case. You need legal professionals with years of experience in criminal law.
You can find law firms that provide armed robbery lawyer services to people needing legal assistance. Remember that a felony offense is serious and can result in incarceration and hefty fines.
You can search law offices in your state to help you through an armed robbery lawsuit and hopefully get you out of dire straits.
LookUpInmate.org provides access to inmate records from over 7,000 U.S. correctional facilities, including federal and state prisons, local jails, military prisons, and immigrant detention facilities.
You can find information on facility regulations, visiting hours, policies for sending money to inmates, and contact details like phone numbers and mailing addresses. You can also get updated on an inmate’s release date to determine when they can rejoin society.
1. Number of reported robbery cases in the United States from 1990 to 2021
2. Armed robbery
3. Robbery Sentencing and Penalties
4. Theft Sentencing and Penalties
5. Magana-Gonzalez v. State
6. Lemon v. State
7. Driving under the influence (DUI)
8. What Is Duress? Definition, What Qualifies, and Types
9. Moody v. State