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Understanding the serious penalties for armed robbery

The accusation of theft can be serious. In fact, individuals in New York that are suspected of the unlawful taking of property could face serious penalties. Even more so, the accused offender could face even more severe consequences if they are charged with armed robbery. Unlike theft, armed robbery requires the application of threat or force, which causes this criminal charge to carry with it serious penalties, usually because the offender used a gun or a knife.

According to New York Penal Code Article 160, armed robbery is the forcible stealing of property while using or threatening the immediate use of physical force upon another person for the purpose of taking the property. An individual is guilty of robbery in the first degree if they forcibly steal property, and, in the course of the crime, cause serious physical injury to any person who was not a participant in the crime. A person could also face first degree robbery charges if they were armed with a deadly weapon, used or threatened the immediate use of a dangerous instrument or displayed what appeared to be a pistol, revolver, rifle, shotgun, machine gun or any other firearm.

In order to be convicted of an armed robbery charge, three elements must be proven. First, the defendant must have committed larceny. Second, the defendant must have used or threatened to use the immediate use of physical force upon another person. Third, the defendant must have had the intention of either taking the property or the intention to retain the property.

Armed robbery in the first degree is considered a class B felony. Such a crime carries a criminal sentence of 10 to 25 years in prison. Additionally, an offender could incur a fine of up to $5,000 or double the financial gain from the robbery, whichever is higher.

Because the penalties of armed robbery are serious, it is important to understand the defense options available. Typically, a defendant could use defenses such as the gun was unloaded or unable to be discharged, or the defendant was under duress, or was suffering from a mental disease or defect. While these and other defenses are potential options, it is important that defendants understand the best defense path for them and the rights that are afforded to them.

Source: FindLaw, "New York Robbery Laws," accessed Dec. 4, 2016

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