Under Pennsylvania law, robbery is a type of theft offense and is generally considered a third degree felony, but the offense may be elevated to a first or second degree felony depending on the facts or circumstances of your case. While a robbery offense typically involves the theft of the money or property of another, in order to be found guilty of robbery, you have to intend to take or steal someone’s money or property, and,
- you do so by use of force — it does not matter how slight the force actually is;
- in the process of the theft, you injure someone, or cause serious bodily harm;
- you threaten them with injury or intend to frighten them into thinking you will cause injury;
- you commit or threaten to commit any felony in the first or second degree felony; or
- you take money from a bank or other financial institution after demanding the money from someone who works there.
In other words, to be found guilty of robbery, rather than just a simple theft, in most cases you have to have used some kind of force or threatened to use force, no matter how slight, or you caused some additional injury or harm during the course of the theft.
Some Common Defenses to Robbery Charges
In some circumstances, if a theft did not occur, it is possible that you will not be convicted of robbery. However, in these cases, it is generally found that you were reclaiming your own property, or taking back property you believed was your own. In other cases, even if you did not follow through with an actual theft of another’s property, you can still be found guilty of robbery as long as you intended to take someone else’s property by use of force, and you threatened that person with your intentions. Other defenses that may apply to robbery cases include findings that injuries did not occur during the course of the theft, or the victim was not afraid of being injured, or even findings that you were intoxicated, entrapped, or committed the robbery under duress. However, it should be noted that being voluntarily intoxicated or voluntarily under a drugged condition are not considered defenses to robbery offenses in Pennsylvania.
Penalties for a Robbery Conviction
As mentioned above, robbery is generally considered a third degree felony in Pennsylvania. A third degree felony is punishable by up to seven years’ imprisonment, and a fine of up to $15,000. It is possible that a robbery offense may be elevated to a first or second degree felony depending on the facts and circumstances of your case. For example, if during the course of the robbery you injure someone, you can be charged with a second degree felony. In addition, if you cause serious injuries to someone, or put them in fear of serious injury during the course of the robbery, you can be charged with a first degree felony. Moreover, if you rob a motor vehicle while someone is in lawful possession of the vehicle, you can also be charged with a first degree robbery. In Pennsylvania, a second degree felony is punishable by up to ten years’ imprisonment, and a fine of up to $25,000. A first degree felony conviction can result in up to twenty years of jail time, and a fine of up to $25,000. Of course, in addition to a lengthy jail sentence and hefty fines, you may face additional consequences that go along with having a criminal conviction. A criminal conviction can adversely affect your ability to obtain or keep a job, your ability to get in to certain educational institutions, and even your ability to obtain student financial aid, not to mention the negative impact it may have on your relationships with friends and family.
Contact an experienced Pennsylvania Criminal Defense Attorney today to help you fight your robbery charge!
If you have been arrested and charged with robbery, your charges should not be taken lightly as you can potentially face serious and lasting adverse consequences in your everyday life. If you are facing robbery charges, contact a knowledgeable and experienced Pennsylvania Criminal Defense Attorney right away. The attorneys at Coover & Scheidemann have successfully helped other people who have faced similar criminal charges like yours, and they can review your case, and help you determine the best strategy for fighting your robbery charge.