New York Armed Robbery

"Armed robbery" is a term that is often used in the movies and on television to describe a "hold up" for a business. In reality it is a type of robbery. Robbery is one of several theft crimes defined in New York Penal Law. However, to commit a robbery you must have used force. To commit armed robbery, you must use a deadly weapon such as gun or knife. If as part of the robbery you are armed with a deadly weapon, then the charge you will face is robbery in the first degree. Robbery in the first degree is a very serious crime that could land you in prison for up to 25 years. If you have been charged with armed robbery it is important to immediately contact an experienced New York Armed Robbery Lawyer who will review the facts of your case and aggressively defend you against the charges.

Armed Robbery

Robbery is defined as committing larceny using or threatening to use physical force in order to prevent the victim from resisting. Or you use physical force or the threat of physical force in order to compel the victim to turn over the property. N.Y. Pen. Law § 160.05. Larceny is defined a wrongfully taking, obtaining, or withholding property with the intent of depriving another person of that property. N.Y. Pen. Law § 155.05. If you use a deadly weapon as a way of intimidating the victim, the robbery rises in seriousness from robbery in the third degree to robbery in the first degree. While New York's penal statute defines "deadly weapon" as any loaded weapon such as a gun, a switchblade knife, gravity knife, pilum ballistic knife, metal knuckle knife, dagger, billy, blackjack, plastic knuckles, or metal knuckles, generally either a gun or a knife is used during an armed robbery. N.Y. Pen. Law § 10.00(12).

Because the presence of a gun or other deadly weapon is an essential element to support a robbery in the first degree charged based on the use of a deadly weapon, a valid defense to such a charge would be the absence of a deadly weapon. For example, in People v. Grant, 935 N.Y.S.2d 542 (2011), defendant John Grant robbed a bank by showing a teller a note stating that he had a gun. The teller complied with Grant's demand for money. At trial the defendant argued that he did not have a gun and that the note was not sufficient evidence that he actually had a gun. While Grant was initially convicted of robbery in the first degree, the appeals court reversed the conviction, agreeing with Grant that the note was not enough to prove that he had a gun.

A knife is also frequently used to commit armed robbery. While the statute defining "deadly weapon" lists several types of knives, almost any knife when used during a robbery is enough to sustain an armed robbery charge. For example in People v. Samuel, 931 N.Y.S.2d 403 (2011) the defendant was convicted of robbery in the first degree based on using a folding knife.

Arrest and Arraignment

If you are arrested for armed robbery the arresting officer will take you to the local police precinct where you will be photographed and fingerprinted. After this initial processing you will be taking to Central Booking where you will remain until you are called for your arraignment hearing. At your arraignment hearing you will learn the exact charges against you. In some cases the charges will be different from what you expected. Based on a review of the evidence, the prosecutor may decide to raise or lower the charges, or to add additional charges. If you are charged with robbery in the first degree based on an armed robbery, there is a good change that you will also be charged with criminal possession of stolen property, criminal possession of a weapon, reckless endangerment or assault. At your arraignment you will also learn whether or not bail will be required.

Because robbery in the first degree is a felony New York law requires that the prosecutor present your case to the Grand Jury. The Grand Jury will decide whether you should be indicted, meaning charged with a crime. If you are indicted, you may be able to negotiate a plea bargain with the prosecutor that would require you to plead guilty to a lesser offense. There are rules regarding plea bargains and indicted felony cases. Since robbery in the first degree is a Class B drug felony, the best "deal" that the prosecutor can offer is for you to plead guilty to a Class D felony such robbery in the third degree. Beware that pleading guilty to a lesser charge still means that you will have been convicted of a crime. If you are not able to reach a plea agreement with the prosecutor then your case will go to trial.

Consequences of an Armed Robbery Conviction

If you are convicted of robbery in the first degree based on an armed robbery you will be sentenced to at least 5 years in prison. In addition, your sentence will likely also include a term of post-release supervision, a fine, and restitution.

Prison

Because armed robbery is a Class B felony, the maximum prison sentence is generally 25 years. However, the actual length of your prison sentence will largely depend on your prior criminal record. Based on your criminal record, you will be labeled as someone who has no prior convictions, someone who is a non-violent predicate offender, someone who is a violent predicate offender, or someone who is a persistent felony offender.

  • Prior convictions: Prior convictions include felony convictions within the last 10 years.
  • Non-Violent Predicate: A non-violent felony conviction within the last 10 years.
  • Violent Predicate: A violent felony conviction within the last 10 years.
  • Persistent Felony Offender: At least 2 prior felony convictions.

If you have no prior convictions the judge will still be required to sentence you to at least 5 years in prison because assault in the first degree is also classified as a violent felony. If you are classified as a non-violent predicate offender the court will be required to sentence you to at least 8 years, while if you are classified as a violent predicate offender, you will be sentenced to at least 10 years in prison. If you are a persistent felony offender the minimum sentence you will receive is 20-25 years in prison. In addition, if you are a persistent felony offender, instead of the maximum sentence being 25 years the judge has the authority to sentence you to up to life in prison. N.Y. Pen. Law § 70.08. Other factors that may cause the judge to give you a more severe sentence include the value of the property stolen and the severity of the victim's injuries. Factors that may cause the judge to give you a less severe sentence include that you return the stolen property or paid restitution to the victim.

Fines, Fees and Restitution

In addition to sentencing you to prison, as a part of your sentence the judge may also order you to pay a fine and restitution. The fine would be up to $5,000. Restitution is paid to the victim to cover out-of-pocket expenses that result from the robbery. For example, you may be ordered to pay for the property damaged or stolen, as well as the victim's medical expenses. Generally, the maximum amount of restitution is $15,000. However, the court may increase the amount to more than $15,000 to cover the amount of the victim's medical expenses. Furthermore, you will also have to pay a fee to the company charged with collecting the restitution from you.

Furthermore, you will be required to pay certain fees including a fee that is called a "mandatory surcharge" of $300 as well as a victim assistance fee of $25. N.Y. Pen. Law § 60.35. You may also be required to pay probation or parole supervision fees of $30 per month.

If you do not pay a fine, fee or restitution, you may be charged with a misdemeanor and sent to prison for up to a year, your wages may be garnished or the state of New York may obtain a judgment against you. However, if you cannot pay the judge may adjust the payment terms, lower the amount you must pay, or revoke the part of the sentencing requiring you to pay.

Post-Release Supervision

If convicted of armed robbery your sentence will also include a term of post-release supervision of up to 5 years. N.Y. Pen. Law § 70.45(e). The purpose of post-release supervision is to ensure that when you are released from prison you experience a smooth re-integration into the community. Post-release supervision is overseen by the Division of Parole. Conditions will be placed on you to ensure this smooth re-integration and to help ensure that you do not reoffend:

  • You must not break the law
  • You must not hang around others have criminal records
  • You must not go to unlawful or disreputable places
  • You must not possess or use a controlled substance
  • You must submit to drug testing
  • You must attend a drug or alcohol education class
  • You must refrain from consuming alcohol
  • You must consent to warrantless searches
  • You must submit to home visits by your Parole Officer
  • You must regularly report to your Parole Officer
  • You cannot leave the State of New York without permission
  • If you move you must let your Parole Officer know of your new address or new job
  • You must stick to a curfew
  • You must have job or attend school

If you fail to follow the rules associated with your post-release supervision, you risk going back to prison.

Long-Term Consequences

If you are convicted of armed robbery there will be consequences that will affect your life even after you complete every aspect of your sentence. You will have a criminal record that includes a violent felony that will make several aspects of your life more challenging such as getting a job. Most employers perform background checks on prospective employees. If an employer discovers your criminal record, that employer may be hesitant to hire you. In addition, you will be barred from getting a license to teach or practice law. You will not be able to own a gun, serve in the military, or serve on juries. Some schools may refuse to admit you. You will also not be able to receive certain government benefits such as welfare or federally funded housing. You may lose custody of your children. If you are not a U.S. citizen you could be deported.

Defending an armed robbery charge is complicated requiring an understanding complex issues related to evidence as well as understanding possible defenses. The staff at Stephen Bilkis & Associates, PLLC has years of experience successfully defending clients in New York criminal courts who have been charged with armed robbery, robbery with a deadly weapon, and robbery in the first degree as well as other theft crimes such as robbery in the second degree, robbery in third degree, grand larceny, embezzlement, and burglary. Contact us at 1.800.NY.NY.LAW (1.800.696.9529) to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We serve those accused of robbery in the following locations:

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