Robbery Sentencing and Penalties
By FindLaw Staff | Legally reviewed by Evan Fisher, Esq. | Last reviewed April 27, 2022
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In most criminal cases, juries determine a defendant's guilt or innocence and judges determine sentences for the guilty, although some states allow the jury to choose the sentence within a range set by state law. When crafting sentences, judges rely on the language of the relevant criminal statute for guidance on the term of the sentence. Judges then look at any aggravating or mitigating factors to determine the exact sentence to hand down. This is true for robbery sentencing as well as the sentencing and penalties for other crimes.
Robbery Sentencing and Penalties: Statutory Guidance
Criminal statutes will typically include a section that sets a punishment for the crime in question, often suggesting a range. The punishment described in a criminal statute can take many forms, including a range of years with a minimum and maximum sentence or a list of several distinct options from which judges may select. Judges also may take into account factors such as the defendant's age, the existence of prior arrests or convictions, and other details.
California law establishes penalties for second degree robbery under its Determinate Sentencing Law, which prescribes three specific penalties (the low, middle, or high term) of either two, three, or five years in prison. Judges can select which of those punishments the defendant will receive based on the facts of the case.
New York, on the other hand, establishes a minimum and maximum term of imprisonment and allows judges to select the appropriate penalty from within that range. For second degree robbery, the statutory range consists of a minimum prison term of three and one-half years and a maximum term of fifteen years. Additionally, a defendant convicted of robbery can be punished by a fine of up to $5000.
Robbery Sentencing: Restitution and Other Penalties
In addition to prison, probation, and other sentences, statutes may also establish other forms of punishment, such as fines, community service, and restitution. Defendants who are unable to pay restitution to the victims may be ordered to perform community service instead.
Judges will look at the facts of a case as well as any aggravating or mitigating factors when deciding on the exact sentence and related penalties to give to a defendant after conviction. In a robbery case, judges will typically factor in:
- The value of the stolen property;
- The level of violence or intimidation used; and
- The nature of the victim to reach a suitable punishment.
An aggravating factor increases the severity of the crime, while a mitigating factor reduces it. In jurisdictions where the use of a weapon during a robbery forms a component of punishment instead of creating a separate crime, the presence of a weapon constitutes an aggravating factor that will increase the length of a defendant's sentence. The defendant's criminal record can also act as an aggravating factor.
Mitigating factors for a robbery case can include such things as whether the defendant returned the stolen property or took responsibility for the commission of the crime. The lack of a criminal history can also provide a mitigating factor for the defendant.
Discuss Your State's Robbery Sentencing and Penalties with an Attorney
Robbery is generally treated a serious crime, and therefore can have severe consequences. If you have questions about the penalties for robbery in your state, or you've been charged with a crime, you may want to speak with a local criminal defense attorney to get your questions answered and get help with your defense.
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