Robbery

The NYPD takes robbery accusations very seriously. An experienced New York City robbery crime lawyer is the critical first step in dealing with any accusation involving this crime.

People often use the term "robbery" interchangeably with other acts that involve stealing. Robbery is defined as using force or the threat of force to effect the stealing of the property. So if someone commits a shoplift, they are not committing a robbery unless they are using force (or the threat of force) to either steal the property or to get away once they've stolen the property. Usually when a person says they were "mugged," what they are legally saying is they were robbed.

Robbery is a very serious crime and is almost always a felony. In New York, laws against robbery are codified in New York Penal Code Article 160.

The Penal Code defines robbery as "forcible stealing." Penal Code Section 160.00 defines forcible stealing as a situation when "in the course of committing a larceny, a person uses or threatens the immediate use of physical force upon another person for the purpose of either: (i) preventing or overcoming resistance to the taking of the property or to the retention of the property immediately after the taking; or (ii) 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."

The important thing to remember when it comes to robbery is that the use of force or threat of force must be immediate if the property isn't handed over. A threat of force at a later time is not robbery. So if someone says "give me weekly payments or I will hurt your family," that is not robbery. It is extortion.

The most basic form of the crime in New York is Robbery in the Third Degree, which is defined as "forcibly stealing property." As you add aggravating factors to that basic crime, you get enhancements into higher forms of robbery. For example, if two or more people commit the robbery or if a non-participant in the crime suffers a physical injury, then a participant in the crime is guilty of Robbery in the Second Degree. Examples of Robbery in the First Degree include situations in which a loaded and operable gun is used or if the robbery victim suffers serious physical injury.

Below are the applicable sanctions in New York for the various forms of robbery and what the government needs to prove.

  • Robbery in the First Degree

Robbery in the First Degree is a very serious crime. It is codified in Penal Code Section 160.15. If a person with no prior felony convictions is convicted of Robbery in the First Degree, the minimum period of incarceration is 5 years and the maximum is 25 years. If the person has been previously convicted of a prior felony within 10 years of the new conviction, excluding time spent in prison, the minimum period of incarceration is 8 years and the maximum is 25 years. If the person has been previously convicted of a violent felony within the past 10 years of the new conviction, excluding time spent in prison, the minimum period of incarceration is 10 years and the maximum period is 25 years. In all circumstances, the person is forced to be on parole between 2.5 to 5 years.

There are four subsections of Robbery in the First Degree.

160.15(1)
For the government to sustain a conviction for Robbery in the First Degree (subsection 1), the government needs to prove the following two elements beyond a reasonable doubt. The government needs to prove:
  1. the person forcibly stole property; and
  2. in the course of the commission of the crime, or in the immediate flight from the crime, the person or another participant in the crime, caused serious physical injury to a non-participant in the crime.

160.15(2)
For the government to sustain a conviction for Robbery in the First Degree (subsection 2), the government needs to prove the following two elements beyond a reasonable doubt. The government needs to prove:

  1. the person forcibly stole property; and
  2. in the course of the commission of the crime, or in the immediate flight from the crime, the person or another participant in the crime, was armed with a deadly weapon.

160.15(3)
For the government to sustain a conviction for Robbery in the First Degree (subsection 3), the government needs to prove the following two elements beyond a reasonable doubt. The government needs to prove:

  1. the person forcibly stole property; and
  2. in the course of the commission of the crime, or in the immediate flight from the crime, the person or another participant in the crime, possessed a dangerous instrument and used or threatened the immediate use of that dangerous instrument.

160.15(4)
For the government to sustain a conviction for Robbery in the First Degree (subsection 4), the government needs to prove the following two elements beyond a reasonable doubt. The government needs to prove:

  1. the person forcibly stole property; and
  2. in the course of the commission of the crime, or in the immediate flight from the crime, the person or another participant in the crime, displayed what appeared to be a pistol, revolver, rifle, shotgun, machine gun, or other firearm.

With regard to this subsection, it is an affirmative defense that the pistol, revolver, rifle, shotgun, machine gun, or other firearm was not loaded or was incapable of firing a shot. This means if the person can show at trial that it was more likely than not that the gun wasn't loaded or was broken, then the person is not guilty of First Degree Robbery, but is rather guilty of Second Degree Robbery (Penal Code Section 160.10[2][b]).

  • Robbery in the Second Degree

Robbery in the Second Degree is codified in New York Penal Code Section 160.10. It is a class C violent felony. If a person with no prior felony convictions is convicted of this crime, the minimum period of incarceration is 3 1/2 years in prison and the maximum is 15 years in prison. If the person has been previously convicted of a prior felony within 10 years of the new conviction, excluding time spent in prison, the minimum period of incarceration is 5 years and the maximum is 15 years. If the person has been previously convicted of a violent felony within the past 10 years of the new conviction, excluding time spent in prison, the minimum period of incarceration is 7 years and the maximum period is 15 years. If a person has prior felony convictions, he must serve 5 years parole after his sentence is over. If the person has no prior felonies, he must serve 2.5-5 years on parole.

There are three main subsections of Robbery in the Second Degree. The second subsection as its own two subsections.

160.10(1)
For the government to sustain a conviction for Robbery in the Second Degree (subsection 1), the government needs to prove the following two elements beyond a reasonable doubt. The government needs to prove:

  1. the person forcibly stole property; and
  2. the person was aided in doing so by another person who was actually present.

160.10(2)(a)
For the government to sustain a conviction for Robbery in the Second Degree (subsection 2-A), the government needs to prove the following two elements beyond a reasonable doubt. The government needs to prove:

  1. the person forcibly stole property; and
  2. in the course of the commission of the crime, or in the immediate flight from the crime, the person or another participant in the crime, caused physical injury to a non-participant in the crime.

160.10(2)(b)
For the government to sustain a conviction for Robbery in the Second Degree (subsection 2-B), the government needs to prove the following two elements beyond a reasonable doubt. The government needs to prove:

  1. the person forcibly stole property; and
  2. in the course of the commission of the crime, or in the immediate flight from the crime, the person or another participant in the crime, displayed what appeared to be a pistol, revolver, rifle, shotgun, machine gun, or other firearm.

160.10(3)
For the government to sustain a conviction for Robbery in the Second Degree (subsection 3), the government needs to prove the following two elements beyond a reasonable doubt. The government needs to prove:

  1. the person forcibly stole property; and
  2. the property consisted of a motor vehicle.
  • Robbery in the Third Degree

Robbery in the Third Degree is codified in Penal Code Section 160.05. It is a class D felony. It is classified as a non-violent felony. There is no minimum period of mandatory incarceration if a person with no prior felony convictions is convicted of Robbery in the Third Degree, however, the maximum period of incarceration is an indeterminate sentence of 2 1/3 - 7 years. An indeterminate sentence is one in which the person is sentenced to a range and the department of corrections determines how much of that range the person must serve before he is eligible for release. If the person has been previously convicted of a prior felony within 10 years of the new conviction, excluding time spent in prison, the minimum period of incarceration is 2 - 4 years and the maximum is 3 1/2 - 7 years. There is no period of mandatory parole after the person is released from custody.

There are no subsections for Robbery in the Third Degree.

160.05
For the government to sustain a conviction for Burglary in the Third Degree, the government needs to prove the following three elements beyond a reasonable doubt. The government needs to prove:

  1. the person forcibly stole property from another person.
There are some terms of art that have their own legal definitions.

A person "steals" property and commits "larceny" when, with the intent to deprive another of property or to appropriate the property to himself or to a third person, such person wrongfully takes, obtains, or withholds property from the owner of the property.

"Forcible stealing" occurs when in the course of committing a larceny, a person uses or threatens the immediate use of physical force upon another person for the purpose of either: (i) preventing or overcoming resistance to the taking of the property or to the retention of the property immediately after the taking; or (ii) 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.

"Serious Physical Injury" means impairment of a person's physical condition which creates a substantial risk of death, or which causes death, or serious and protracted disfigurement, or protracted impairment of health or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily organ.

"Physical Injury" means impairment of a person's physical condition or substantial pain.

"Dangerous Instrument" means any instrument, article, or substance, including a vehicle, which, under the circumstances in which it is used, attempted to be used, or threatened to be used, is readily capable of causing death or other serious physical injury. Robbery in the Third Degree is a serious crime. John Buza is an experienced New York criminal defense attorney and is a former Manhattan prosecutor. Do not hesitate to contact him for a free consultation if you, or a loved one, is accused of this crime.

"Deadly Weapon" means any loaded weapon from which a shot, readily capable of producing death or other serious physical injury, may be discharged, or a switchblade knife. gravity knife, pilum ballistic knife, metal knuckle knife, dagger, billy, blackjack, or metal knuckles.

Robbery is a very serious accusation. If you or a loved on is accused of committing any subsection of robbery, do not hesitate to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney for a free consultation.