The taking of another’s property without consent is generally known as “stealing.” However, there is no offense known simply as “stealing” under New York penal law. What we generally think of as stealing is broken down into a number of other serious crimes under New York law, such as theft, fraud, embezzlement, burglary, and robbery. Each of these crimes is distinguished by the way in which another person’s property is taken.
The defining characteristic of robbery that distinguishes it from other theft crimes is the use of or threat of force. New York Penal Law §160.00 defines the crime of robbery as, “forcible stealing.” More specifically, a person forcibly steals property and commits robbery when, in the course of committing a larceny, he uses or threatens the immediate use of physical force upon another person for the purpose of:
- Preventing or overcoming resistance to the taking of the property or to keep the property immediately after the taking; or
- Compelling the owner of such property or another person to give up the property or to engage in other conduct which aids in the commission of the larceny.
All New York robberies are charged as felonies, but there are different degrees of charges depending on the nature of the force or threat used in the commission of the crime.
- Robbery in the Third Degree. Third degree robbery is charged when someone forcibly steals property as described above. It is a class D felony.
- Robbery in the Second Degree. A person is guilty of robbery in the second degree, a class C felony, when he forcibly steals property and when:
- he is aided by another person actually present; or
- in the course of committing the robbery or while fleeing, he or the person aiding him either:
- causes physical injury to any person who is not a participant in the crime; or
- displays what appears to be a pistol, revolver, rifle, shotgun, machine gun or other firearm (note that it doesn’t need to actually be a gun to be charged with this offense, it simply needs to appear to be one); or
- the property stolen is a motor vehicle.
- Robbery in the First Degree. A person will be charged with robbery in the first degree when her or she forcibly steals property and when, in the course of the commission of the crime or while fleeing, that person or anyone else participating in the robbery:
- causes serious physical injury to any person who is not a participant in the crime; or
- is armed with a deadly weapon; or
- uses or threatens the immediate use of a dangerous instrument; or
- displays what appears to be a pistol, revolver, rifle, shotgun, machine gun or other firearm.
It is a defense to charges of robbery in the first degree to assert that the firearm at issue was not loaded, among other factors, but that does not preclude prosecution for lesser robbery charges or any other related crime. Robbery in the first degree is charged as a class B felony.
If you are facing robbery charges of any kind, you are also facing the possibility of serving significant time behind bars and a criminal record which could haunt you for years to come. It is crucial that you speak with an experienced and knowledgeable New York robbery defense attorney as soon as possible. If you are being prosecuted for robbery, please call (718) 852-6763 to speak with one of our experienced criminal defense attorneys now.