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Robbery Sentencing and Penalties

Robbery is the unlawful taking of personal property from another. It is committed with violence or the threat of violence and the intent to steal. Charges of robbery result in penalties and sentences that vary depending on the jurisdiction. Typically, state laws outline the range of penalties for these offenses.

In most criminal cases, juries determine a defendant's guilt or innocence based on the elements of the crime. However, it is the judge's responsibility to set the appropriate punishment within the range set by state law. When crafting sentences, judges rely on the language of robbery laws for guidance on the term of the sentence. They also look at possible reductions or enhancements due to mitigating or aggravating circumstances. These factors are crucial in determining the exact sentence. This applies to robbery offenses and other violent crimes.

Criminal Sentence for Armed Robbery

Criminal statutes often have code sections that detail the punishment for various offenses. Armed robbery charges—particularly those with use of force or dangerous weapons—often carry heightened penalties. Factors such as the defendant's criminal history and the use of a deadly weapon significantly influence the case outcome.

Different state laws likewise dictate the penalties for other robbery and theft crimes. In some jurisdictions, taking personal property can result in misdemeanor charges. However, a robbery resulting in bodily injury and involving a deadly weapon is often classified as a violent felony. There are also state laws that prescribe a particular sentencing and penalty for the crime of robbery. For instance, the California penal code classifies robbery into first-degree and second-degree.

Under California law, a first-degree robbery occurs if the robbery is committed against a victim in an inhabited house or building. There are enhanced penalties if the defendant was accompanied by two or more individuals during the home-invasion robbery. If the offense meets both conditions, a prison term of three, six, or nine years could result. In contrast, other robbery convictions are classified as second-degree robbery, which is punishable by two, three, or five years. Judges may also prescribe the penalty and prison time based on other facts and circumstances surrounding the case.

Robbery is also punishable under California's Three Strikes Law. This law applies when a person was previously convicted of two violent felony offenses. If that person subsequently faces charges for another serious or violent felony, like robbery, they could face 25 years to life in state prison. This rule is under the Three Strikes provision.

Although state laws prescribe penalties, courts still have the ultimate discretion on robbery sentencing. Courts consider other factors surrounding the case. In addition, the prosecution must prove each element of the charge and that the offender is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Restitution and Other Penalties

In addition to prison, probation, and other penalties, statutes may establish other forms of punishment. These include fines, community service, or restitution. Defendants who cannot pay restitution to the victims may be ordered to perform community service instead. When sentencing a defendant, courts look at mitigating or aggravating circumstances surrounding the case. Judges often consider the following circumstances:

  • The value of the stolen property
  • The level of violence or intimidation used
  • The resulting great bodily injury, if any, to the victim
  • The criminal history of the defendant
  • The distance—particularly if they are in their immediate presence—between the offender and victim when the property was taken

An aggravated robbery results in a heightened penalty or increased criminal liability. Mitigating factors, however, reduce or lower criminal penalties and charges. In addition, law enforcement authorities also aggressively pursue aggravated felony offenses. In some jurisdictions, using a deadly weapon is an aggravating circumstance. This increases prison sentence length and penalties. In robbery cases, mitigating factors include the absence of deadly weapons or if the defendant took responsibility for the crime. A lack of criminal history may also be a mitigating factor.

Legal Defense Against Robbery Charges

Robbery charges, whether felony or misdemeanor, are serious criminal offenses. As such, a conviction in your criminal record can affect future opportunities or bring long-lasting effects. Thus, consulting a criminal defense attorney is crucial. They can advise you about your robbery defenses and your criminal charges. FindLaw offers a directory of criminal defense lawyers in every state. Here, you can see their law offices' locations and contact numbers.

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