Under Pennsylvania laws, you can face charges of robbery in the event you have removed property from another person by using threats or force. You can also face robbery charges if you enter a bank and request cash from an employee by force or threat. In addition to depriving a rightful owner of their property, you are physically removing property from a victim by threatening them, removing it by force or wielding a weapon.
Understanding Charges and Penalties
All defendants who are accused of robbery are facing felony charges in Pennsylvania. The only difference is the level of felony you may be charged with if you are arrested for robbery. The various distinctions are:
- First Degree – If you are charged with first-degree felony robbery is it because in the commission of the crime someone suffered serious bodily harm or you threatened them with serious bodily harm. This is the most serious category of felony robbery.
- Second Degree – If you threaten or have actually injured someone, to a lesser degree than serious, you could face charges of second-degree felony robbery.
- Third Degree – When you have physically taken or removed property using any level of force, however slight, you could be facing third-degree felony robbery charges.
Because there have been recent court cases that may impact mandatory jail sentences for all crimes, the current mandatory sentences which were up to seven years for a third degree robbery felony, up to 10 years for a second-degree robbery and up to 20 years for first-degree robbery.
Annual Robberies in Pittsburgh
Robbery has been gradually decreasing in Pittsburgh since 2010 and then dropped significantly in 2017. From 2016 to 2017, robberies dropped by nearly 38%. The three areas which experience the most robberies are Golden Triangle, South Side Flats, and East Liberty, which since 2010 have experienced 559, 436, and 361 offenses respectively.
The vast majority of robberies occur in the evening (5 PM to 11 PM) and are distributed fairly evenly throughout the week. These robberies account for 39% of the total offenses in a given week.
Mounting a Robbery Defense
Initially, it may seem that mounting a successful defense to a robbery charge is next to impossible. However, regardless of which level of felony robbery you are facing, it is imperative that you work with a criminal defense attorney immediately. Some of the potential defenses that could be mounted on your behalf include:
- Theft did not occur – If you are taking property that is your own or that you believe is your own, you cannot be charged with any robbery because you cannot steal your own property.
- Force was not used – If no force was used in the commission of theft (provided there is also no threat) it may be possible to have the charges reduced to simple theft charges.
- Threats were not used – You cannot face robbery charges if the victim was not threatened with harm when the property was removed.
- Duress/intoxication – In some cases, if you were under duress at the time of the robbery or you were under the influence of alcohol or drugs you may not have been able to understand the ramifications of your actions.
Why Hiring An Attorney Is Important
While you may think you can defend yourself against a robbery charge by yourself, it is important to keep in mind the prosecutor will be very aggressive in pursuing the charges against you and will work hard to prove their case. It is never a good idea to attempt to defend yourself against any criminal charges and the potential ramifications of a felony conviction make it even more important to work with an aggressive criminal defense attorney.
Having a felony offense on your record could cause you some specific long-term problems and can impact your ability to find suitable employment, housing and may disqualify you for student loans. In addition, your right to own a firearm could be put in jeopardy. It is never a good idea to risk your freedom and put yourself in a position of owing steep fines and having the potential of a life-long criminal record. If you are arrested for any robbery charges, contact our skilled criminal defense attorneys immediately.