If you have been charged with robbery in Pennsylvania, your situation should be taken seriously. A conviction for armed robbery could result in stiff fines and a lengthy prison sentence. Even after you complete your sentence, you can face ongoing consequences because of your criminal record. At DiCindio Law, we have successfully defended many people who have been charged with armed robbery. We are prepared to use our legal skills and knowledge to help you to secure the most favorable outcome possible in your case.
What is robbery?
In Pennsylvania, robbery is defined in 18 Pa. C.S. 3701. Under this statute, robbery can be committed in several ways. Robbery is a type of theft that includes intimidation, fear, physical force, threats of force, or other similar actions by the defendant. There are several types of robbery charges that depend on the specific actions of the defendant when the theft is committed.
When a defendant seriously injures the victim, threatens him or her, or places them in fear of suffering immediate serious injuries, the defendant may be charged with armed robbery. This is a first-degree felony and carries significant penalties. Since first-degree felony robbery requires that the victim was either threatened with serious bodily injury or was seriously injured, this type of crime typically involves a weapon. If you are charged and convicted of first-degree armed robbery, your potential sentence will include up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000.
Robbery of the third degree
If you take property from someone else while using minor force, it is a third-degree robbery. A common example of this includes snatching a purse or phone out of someone’s hands and running away with it. By contrast, if you successfully picked someone’s pocket without his or her knowledge, it is not a third-degree robbery but will instead be charged as a misdemeanor theft offense. The key difference is awareness. For the crime to be charged as a third-degree felony, the victim must have known of the theft when it occurred. A conviction for third-degree robbery can result in a sentence of up to seven years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Pennsylvania’s three-strikes law and first-degree robbery
If you are convicted of first-degree armed robbery, it is considered to be a crime of violence under Pennsylvania’s three-strikes law. If you have previous convictions for crimes of violence, the mandatory minimum for a second strike is 10 to 20 years in prison. If it is your third strike, you can face from 25 years up to life in prison. If you have prior convictions for violent crimes, getting help from a knowledgeable robbery attorney is critical for protecting your freedom.
What defenses are available for robbery charges?
While robbery charges are very serious, defenses may be available to help to reduce the penalties. A robbery attorney might start by challenging the charge’s gradation during the preliminary hearing. Prosecutors commonly charge defendants with first-degree robbery instead of a lesser offense by overcharging. This might be done to try to secure a conviction of the offense for which the person should have been charged. If your lawyer can show that the alleged victim did not suffer serious injuries, it is possible to get the charges downgraded during the preliminary hearing.
In some cases, it might be possible to have your robbery charge dismissed and your case sent to the trial level on only theft charges. For example, if you pushed a security guard to get away from a retail store after shoplifting, your attorney might be able to get the robbery charge dismissed and the case refiled as misdemeanor theft.
A common defense to a robbery charge is misidentification. If the robber is not immediately caught, the potential for misidentification increases. In this type of defense, the identification procedure might be challenged. Eyewitness identifications are frequently problematic. If an incorrect procedure was used, your criminal defense lawyer might win the dismissal of your case.
Hiring an expert witness on identification problems and eyewitness testimony might be necessary. Many people have trouble making correct identifications in cases involving weapons and when the perpetrators are people they have not seen before or are of a different race. An expert witness might help to educate the jury and challenge your identification.
In addition to these defenses, there might be others available to you in your case. Your lawyer will carefully analyze the facts of what happened and help you to devise the best defenses possible in your case.