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Robbery

Robbery in New York State

The crime of robbery is considered a serious violent felony in New York State.   In simple terms, a robbery is defined as a forcible taking of property.  In other words, a robbery is a larceny, with force.  This force can be actual physical force or the threat of “immediate use of physical force upon another person” (Penal Law § 160.00).  Additionally, under the New York State Penal Law, for an act to qualify as a robbery, the force or threat of force must be for the purpose of

  1. Preventing or overcoming resistance to the taking of the property or to the retention thereof immediately after the taking or
  2. Compelling the owner of such property or another person to deliver up the property or to engage in other conduct which aids in the commission of the larceny.

Under New York Law, there are different types, or degrees of robbery.   The lower the numerical degree of the crime, the more serious the criminal offense is and, therefore, the more serious its punishment.  For example,  Robbery in the third degree is a less serious offense than Robbery in the second degree.   The degree of the  robbery depends on the specific actions of the individual accused of committing the crime.

Robbery in the third degree

Robbery in the third degree is a class D felony. Other examples of crimes that are considered class D felonies are:  Identity Theft in the first degree, Patronizing a Prostitute in the first degree, and Money Laundering in the third degree.

A person is guilty of Robbery in the third degree when he “forcibly steals property” (Penal Law § 160.05).   Notice that in this definition, the use of a weapon is not required.  In addition, physical injury is not required for an individual to be found guilty of Robbery in the third degree.

Robbery in the second degree

Robbery in the second degree is a class C violent felony.

A person is guilty of Robbery in the second degree, under NY Penal Law Section 160.10 when he/she “forcibly steals property” and “when

  1. He is aided by another person actually present; or
  2. In the course of the commission of the crime or of immediate flight therefrom, he or another participant in the crime:
  3. Causes physical injury to any person who is not a participant in the crime; or
  4. Displays what appears to be a pistol, revolver, rifle, shotgun, machine gun or other firearm; or
  5. The property consists of a motor vehicle, as defined in Section 125 of the vehicle and traffic law.”

Notice that under the definition of Robbery in the second degree, there are more elements to the crime than in Robbery in the third degree. This means that the forcible stealing of property, without more, does not rise to the level of Robbery in the second degree.  

Robbery in the first degree

Robbery in the first degree is the most serious of all the robbery charges. It is considered a class B violent felony and can result in substantial jail time.  Under the NY Penal Law Section 160.15, Robbery in the first degree is defined as follows:  “A person commits the crime of Robbery in the first degree when he forcibly steals property and when, in the course of the crime or of immediate flight therefrom he….

  1. Causes serious physical injury to any person who is not a participant in the crime, or
  2. Is armed with a deadly weapon; or
  3. Uses or threatens the immediate use of a dangerous instrument; or
  4. Displays what appears to be a pistol, revolver, rifle, shotgun, machine gun or other firearm; except that in any prosecution under this subdivision, it is an affirmative defense that such pistol, revolver, rifle, shotgun, machine gun or other firearm was not a loaded weapon from which a shot readily capable of producing death or other serious physical injury could be discharged.  Nothing contained in this subdivision shall constitute a defense to a prosecution for, or preclude a conviction of, robbery in the second degree, robbery in the third degree or any other crime.”

While it is clear that the crime of robbery is an extremely serious offense, there are many potential defenses that an experienced criminal attorney can raise, including misidentification and false confession.  In addition, an experienced attorney can assist in potentially reducing the charges by showing, for example, that “serious physical injury” allegedly caused during a robbery  was merely “physical injury”, or  by using what New York law calls an “affirmative defense”.   It is therefore imperative that you speak to an attorney that understands the law and knows how to build a proper defense to fight the charges.  An experienced lawyer can not only protect your right against self-incrimination at the hands of law enforcement, but can fight for your freedom at arraignment, and help you navigate the courts through any potential plea bargains or trial.  Julie Rendelman represents clients in both state and federal criminal courts. She has over 22 years of experience practicing law, both as a prosecutor at the Kings County District Attorney’s Office and as a defense lawyer. Call 212-951-1232 to set up a free consultation or visit www.RendelmanLaw.com to learn more about Ms. Rendelman.

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New York, NY 10017

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