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Pennsylvania Robbery Laws

Overview of Pennsylvania Robbery Laws

Robbery has been committed if during the commission of a theft, the defendant injures someone, threatens them with injury, commits any first or second degree felony, uses force (no matter how slight), or takes money from a financial institution by making a demand upon an employee of the institution. The key difference between robbery and theft under Pennsylvania robbery law is the use of some kind of force or the cause of some serious or additional harm in taking the property from someone.

Additional details about Pennsylvania's robbery laws can be found in the following table.

Statute Pennsylvania Statutes Title 18 § 3701
Statutory Definition of Robbery

A person is guilty of robbery if, in the course of committing a theft, he:


(i) inflicts serious bodily injury upon another;



(ii) threatens another with or intentionally puts him in fear of immediate serious bodily injury;



(iii) commits or threatens immediately to commit any felony of the first or second degree;



(iv) inflicts bodily injury upon another or threatens another with or intentionally puts him in fear of immediate bodily injury;



(v) physically takes or removes property from the person of another by force however slight;  or



(vi) takes or removes the money of a financial institution without the permission of the financial institution by making a demand of an employee of the financial institution orally or in writing with the intent to deprive the financial institution thereof.


Defenses to Robbery Charges

No theft was committed: Because robbery is generally a theft by force, if there is no theft committed, there is no robbery. Examples of actions that may be confused with theft include reclaiming property you own, or taking property that you believed to be your own.

No injury occurred: This defense is only an option in a few specific circumstances, as there are types of robbery that do not require an injury to occur.

Victim was not placed in fear of injury: in many instances, merely being in fear of injury is sufficient for the prosecution to prove the element of force in a robbery charge. However, sometimes criminal charges may be overbroad, and the prosecution may charge someone with a robbery even though the crime committed was a simple theft.

Intoxication, Entrapment, Duress: These three defenses are defenses to many different criminal actions, not only robbery. All three defenses try to show that a defendant is not guilty, even though the crime was committed. An attorney with a solid understanding of criminal defense will be able to help you assert these complex defenses.

Penalties and Sentences

Generally, the crime of robbery constitutes a third degree felony. This is punishable by up to seven years in prison. However, if during the commission of the crime, the defendant causes bodily injury to another person, the charge will be a second degree felony. This carries a sentence of up to ten years in prison. In the event that during the commission of the crime, the defendant seriously injures another person or puts them in fear of serious bodily injury, the crime constitutes a first degree felony. Also, if the defendant commits a robbery of a motor vehicle while another person was in lawful possession of the vehicle, this is also a first degree felony. This carries a sentence of up to twenty years in prison.

Get Professional Legal Help With Your Robbery Case

If you would like to know more about robbery laws in Pennsylvania, there are many private criminal defense attorneys throughout the state who may be able to help. In addition to helping you with a robbery case, they may be able to explain the differences between the many different crimes often associated with robbery, like burglary. Whatever your particular needs, consider calling a Pennsylvania defense attorney today.

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