Although the term “robbery” is sometimes conflated with “theft,” the two terms have very different meanings. Theft (known as larceny in Virginia) is the unlawful taking of another’s property. Robbery involved elements of theft (or larceny) and assault, requiring the use or threat of violence in order to take another’s property. Because violence is involved, robbery is treated a much more serious crime (particularly armed robbery). If you have been charged with robbery in the Commonwealth of Virginia, don’t go it alone: contact a Virginia robbery lawyer today.
Robbery is generally defined as an offender using fear or physical force against the victim to obtain money or property. When a deadly weapon like a gun is used or the victim suffers an injury during the robbery, the Commonwealth may change the charge to “aggravated” or “armed” robbery.
Under the code of Virginia 18.2-58 a person who commits robbery takes a victim’s money or property in three ways. The offender can use force such as by striking, suffocating, partial strangling or any other assault on the victim. The person may not physically touch the victim, but take his or her property by putting the victim in fear of serious harm. The third way an offender commits robbery in the Commonwealth is by using any instrument such as a baseball bat, gun or knife.
The amount of force does not matter. The threat or use of force can be slight.
It’s robbery as long as the intimidation or violence was enough to force the victim to hand over his or her property.
In Virginia, robbery is separated into two offenses: first and second degree categories.
This offense occurs when a person uses violence against the victim or threatens deadly force (using a weapon). Typically, a first degree robbery conviction in the Commonwealth involves a sentence of 10 years to life in prison.
With this offense, a person places the alleged victim in fear of harm. The offender may also be charged if he or sue used any means such as electronic shock or drugs to temporarily disable the victim.
A conviction of second degree robbery nets five to 18 years in prison.
Carjacking doesn’t have a first or second offense. Instead, it carries a separate charge. If the robbery involves a vehicle, it’s considered carjacking which has a sentence of 15 years to life in prison.
A mandatory minimum involves the prison time the convicted individual must complete before he or she can leave prison. For example, an individual convicted of his or her first robbery charge may receive a mandatory minimum of three years in prison. The mandatory minimum increases with each robbery conviction. For instance, a person’s second robbery conviction may carry a mandatory minimum of five years in prison.
For the accused to become convicted of robbery, the prosecutor must prove some basic elements, or components, of the case. There are five basic elements of robbery the prosecutor government must prove.
Since force or the threat of violence is at the heart of a robbery case, the important question in a robbery case involves the timing of the threat of violence or the violent act. In other words, did the violence occur before, during or after the crime was committed? For instance, if the violence occurs when the offender attempts to escape from the crime scene, the charges may include resisting arrest and larceny. It may include burglary too depending on the circumstances of the crime.
It’s important to note that robbery is considered a larceny or theft, not burglary. In Virginia, breaking and entering the victim’s dwelling with intent to commit any larceny is guilty of burglary. The statute 18.2-89 explains that burglary is punishable as a Class 3 felony or Class 2 felony if a deadly weapon was used.