Many people in New York have a misconception about what Robbery is. For example, when a person returns home to find that their residence has been broken into and that their possessions have been stolen, many people's first thought is "Oh my God, I've been robbed!" But technically that is not the case. That is Burglary. Robbery consists of forcibly stealing something, this requires some sort of personal encounter. This element of force is what separates Robbery from the less serious charges of Petit and Grand Larceny. Force can either be actual or implied. If one person physically assaults another and takes their wallet, that is Robbery. But if one person threatens to physically assault another unless they turn over their wallet, and the individual does so, that is the same Robbery crime under the statute.
There are three degrees of Robbery, all of which are considered violent felony offenses.Robbery in the Third Degree: New York Penal Law § 160.05
Robbery in the Third Degree is a D felony, and is simply defined as forcibly stealing property. The example above regarding the taking of another's wallet through physical assault or through threat of physical assault would constitute Robbery in the Third Degree. This offense is punishable by up to seven years in jail.Robbery in the Second Degree: New York Penal Law § 160.10
Robbery in the Second Degree is a C felony. Robbery in the Second Degree consists of the forcible stealing of property with any of the following aggravating factors: (1) the defendant is aided by another person actually present; (2) in the commission of the crime, or during the flight thereafter, the defendant: (a) causes physical injury to a person who is not involved in the commission of the crime, or (b) displays what appears to be a firearm; or (3) the property consists of a motor vehicle. This offense is punishable by up to 15 years in jail.Robbery in the First Degree: New York Penal Law § 160.15
Robbery in the First Degree is a B felony. This offense is also predicated upon a forcible stealing of property, but with more serious aggravating factors: (1) someone who is not involved in the commission of the crime is seriously physically injured, (2) any participant in the crime is armed with a deadly weapon, (3) any participant in the crime uses or threatens the use of a dangerous object, or (4) any participant displays what appears to be a firearm, though it is an affirmative defense to this if the gun is not operable, not loaded, etc. This offense is punishable by up to 25 years in jail.
As one can see, there are subtle differences between Robbery in the Second Degree and Robbery in the First Degree. What is the difference between physical injury and serious physical injury? What constitutes "displaying" what appears to be a gun? Does pointing a finger in a jacket pocket satisfy the "appears to be a firearm" requirement? How does one establish an affirmative defense? The answers to these questions may be the difference between a potential 10 year increase in sentencing.
If you are charged with any degree of Robbery in New York, it is extremely important to consult a top New York Robbery attorney who has an in-depth understanding of the elements of the crime, and who can establish a strong defense to these serious charges. The criminal attorneys at the Law Offices of Jeffrey Lichtman have decades of high profile success in handling New York state criminal cases, whether they be in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, the Bronx, Nassau and Suffolk Counties and Westchester and Rockland County. Call the Law Offices of Jeffrey Lichtman today for a free case consultation.