A Pennsylvania robbery conviction can significantly impact your future. Not only will you face harsh penalties, but the stigma can follow you for life. It might seem scary to face a robbery charge—especially when it’s a felony or a violent crime. But you do not have to fight alone.
If the police question or arrest you for robbery, getting legal help from an experienced and aggressive Pittsburgh robbery lawyer is critical. At Worgul, Sarna & Ness, we can build your defense, pursue the best possible outcome and help reduce the impact of a robbery charge. Call (412) 790-1529 24/7 for a free consultation.
Robbery in Pennsylvania
If you threaten, use force, or cause injury while taking another person’s property, you can be charged with robbery in Pennsylvania. Because robbery involves the threat or act of harm, it is typically a more severe crime than theft alone.
Pennsylvania law defines robbery as doing any of the following while committing theft or trying to flee after a theft attempt:
- Inflicting serious bodily injury on another
- Threatening another with or intentionally putting them in fear of immediate serious bodily injury
- Committing or threatening to commit a first-degree or second-degree felony, such as murder
- Inflicting bodily injury upon another or threatening another with/intentionally putting them in fear of immediate bodily injury
- Physically taking or removing another’s property by force, however slight
- Taking or removing the money of a financial institution without the permission of the financial institution by making a demand of an employee
Types of Pennsylvania Robbery Charges
Before considering the consequences of a robbery conviction, you must understand the type of robbery charge you face. In Pittsburgh, you can be convicted of various kinds of robberies. Each has its own definition and penalties.
Armed robbery involves theft or attempted theft while using a weapon to cause serious bodily harm. For example, injuring someone with a knife while taking their property can be considered an armed robbery.
Strong-arm robbery does not require serious bodily injury. However, it does require the threat of harm during a theft. If you use a gun to intimidate someone while taking their property but do not injure them, it may be considered strong-arm robbery.
The threat of harm while committing or attempting to steal an item could be enough to arrest you. You do not need a weapon to be charged with this crime. You might have used or threatened to use physical force like shoving the victim—so long as it did not cause them serious bodily injury.
If you threaten violence or use minimal force while removing a handbag or purse, it’s considered a “purse-snatching” robbery. This can also include taking an individual’s wallet, phone, money, or other possessions from their body. The item usually has to be in their possession to be considered a purse-snatching robbery.
The victim must also be aware of the crime happening in this type of robbery. Otherwise, it could be seen as pickpocketing or just theft.
Robbery of Motor Vehicle
Robbery of a motor vehicle is also known as carjacking, car theft, or grand theft auto. This charge involves stealing a motor vehicle while its owner is present.
Robbery Penalties in PA
You will likely face a felony for any robbery charge. However, the degree of felony and its punishments will differ based on the severity of the crime.
First-Degree Felony Robbery
When someone is seriously injured due to the robbery, it is a felony of the first degree. First-degree felonies are punishable by up to 20 years in prison. Armed robbery is typically considered this type of felony.
Robbery of motor vehicle charges also falls under first-degree felonies, even without severe injury.
Second-Degree Felony Robbery
If someone is injured, but the injury is not severe, robbery is a felony of the second degree. Second-degree felonies are punishable by up to 10 years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines. Strong-arm robbery charges typically fall under this category.
Third-Degree Felony Robbery
If the threat of force or minimal force is used, and there is little to no injury, it is likely a felony of the third degree. This is punishable by up to seven years in prison and a maximum fine of $15,000. A third-degree felony is likely the result of a purse-snatching robbery.
Robbery Defenses & the Role of A Lawyer
If you face any robbery charge, a strong defense can make the difference in your case. You can potentially reduce or avoid penalties altogether with help from a defense attorney.
Your lawyer’s primary focus will usually be attacking the elements of the robbery offense. This will involve collecting and reviewing the evidence, identifying weaknesses, and determining the best route to secure a favorable outcome. In some robbery cases, this can mean dismissing all charges, proving your innocence in court, reducing to a lower-tier robbery charge, or a plea agreement for a more desirable sentence.
Common defenses against robbery charges include:
Theft Was Not Involved
For the act to be robbery and not assault, the prosecution must prove you intended to commit theft. If you did not take or attempt to take another person’s property, your charges could be reduced to a lesser violent crime.
Harm Was Not Involved
If you did not threaten or impose harm while taking someone else’s property, you might instead be charged with theft by unlawful taking. This theft charge in Pennsylvania is typically a misdemeanor with lighter penalties than a robbery charge. You may still serve time or pay a fine, and there are instances of felony theft as well. It depends on the value of the items you stole.
Proving you did not cause or threaten injury could result in a more desirable outcome than a robbery conviction.
In some cases, you could be arrested and charged for a crime you did not commit. The police may have identified the wrong person. Your lawyer will compile solid evidence to back your innocence if this happens.
To charge anyone with a crime, prosecutors must have enough evidence to prove it. If there is a lack of evidence against you, your charges may be reduced or dropped.
Your Rights Were Violated
If your lawyer discovers someone violated your constitutional rights, you may be able to dismiss evidence against you. For example, police may have conducted an illegal search and seizure or failed to read your Miranda rights.
Any evidence they collected unlawfully could be removed from your case if this happened. This could be helpful if that evidence were needed to convict you.
Speak to a Pittsburgh Robbery Lawyer to Defend Your Rights
If you or someone you know has been charged with robbery, do not delay consulting with an experienced Pittsburgh robbery lawyer. You must act fast to protect your rights and freedom by working with Worgul, Sarna, and Ness Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC. Our team has years of experience in these cases and an excellent record of results in assisting people in robbery cases like yours. Let us help you too.