New York Robbery with a Firearm

The crime of robbery is a type of theft, similar to other theft crimes such as larceny, burglary and embezzlement. However, robbery is also quite different from other theft crimes as robbery also involves the use of force against the victim. A common way to commit robbery is to use a firearm to intimidate the victim into submission. A firearm is another word for a gun. For example, when a bank or gas station is robbed, the perpetrator often uses a firearm in the process. Similarly, when an individual is "held up" on a dark street, a firearm is likely to be used. The reason that a firearm is the weapon of choice is that most people understand how dangerous firearms can be. To avoid being shot and seriously injured or killed, victims are usually quick to comply with the demands of robbers by quickly turning over money, store merchandise or other property. Because of the violent nature of the use of a firearm, if you commit a robbery with a firearm you will be charged with the very serious offense of robbery in the second degree or robbery in the first degree. If you are convicted the judge could sentence you to prison for many years, and require you to pay a substantial fine. If you are accused of robbery with a firearm it is important that you quickly contact an experienced New York Robbery with a Firearm Lawyer who will explain to you how the legal process works and who will work closely with you to aggressively defend you.

Robbery with a Firearm Charges

While there is no specific offense that is called robbery with a firearm, there are two robbery charges that you could face if you have a firearm while committing a robbery: robbery in the second degree or robbery in the first degree. A firearm is defined in the criminal code as a pistol, revolver, shotgun having one or more barrels less than 18" long, rifle having one or more barrels less that 16" long, any weapon made by altering or modifying a shotgun or rifle that has is less than 26" long, or an assault weapon. Antique firearms are excluded from the definition. N.Y. Pen. Law § 265.00(3).

Robbery in the second degree is a Class C felony. You will face this charge if while committing robbery you also display what appears to be a pistol, revolver, rifle, shotgun, machine gun or other firearm. N.Y. Pen. Law §§ 160.10. If you are charged with robbery in the second degree based on displaying a firearm, the statute does not require that you display that firearm during the robbery. It is sufficient that you displayed it during flight after the robbery. This is what happened in the robbery case of People v. Colon, 984 N.Y.S.2d 438 (2014). Defendant Nelson Colon entered a convenience store and demanded that the clerk give him money. He said the word, "gun" but did not display a gun while in the convenience store. As Colon fled the scene, a bystander began to chase him. Colon then pointed the firearm at the bystander. Colon was apprehended and was later convicted of robbery in the second degree.

Robbery in the first degree is a Class B felony. Robbery in the first degree is the most serious robbery charge. You will face this if you commit a robbery and you also are armed with a deadly weapon such as a firearm, or you display what appears to be a pistol, revolver, rifle, shotgun, machine gun or other firearm. N.Y. Pen. Law § 160.15

Arrest and Arraignment

If you are accused of robbery with a firearm you will be arrested and taken into custody at the local precinct where you will be photographed and fingerprinted. You will eventually end up at Central Booking. You will remain there until your case is ready for arraignment. At the arraignment hearing you will go before a judge and the prosecutor will announce the charges against you. If you are charged with robbery with a gun you might also be charged with related crimes such as criminal possession of stolen property, assault or menacing. The judge will then make a decision on bail. Depending on how much of a flight risk the court determines you to be, the judge may order that you be held without bail, set the amount of bail, or allow you to be released without having to post bail. Following the arraignment there are several different steps that may occur before your case goes to trial, including a grand jury hearing, motions, meetings and negotiations.

You may be able to negotiate a plea agreement with the prosecutor. A plea agreement, commonly referred to as a plea bargain or a deal, is an agreement between you and the prosecutor that would require you to plead guilty in exchange for an agreement by the prosecutor to drop one or more of the charges against you, reduce a charge to a less serious offense, or recommend a lighter sentence than you might otherwise receive. For example, the prosecutor may be willing to reduce the robbery in the first degree charge to robbery in the second degree or robbery in the third. Although you would still be convicted for a crime, your sentence would be less severe than if you were found guilty of robbery in the first degree.

Consequences of a Robbery with a Firearm Conviction

If you are convicted of first or second degree robbery there your sentence will include prison. However, there it is likely that the judge will also sentence you to a term of post-release supervision and order you to pay a fine and restitution.

Prison

The length of your prison sentence will depend primarily on whether you are convicted of robbery in the first degree or robbery in the second degree. As robbery in the first degree is the more serious crime, your prison sentence will be longer. The maximum prison sentence for a robbery in the second degree is 15 years while the maximum prison sentence for robbery in the first degree is 25 years. Because both robbery in the second degree and robbery in the first degree are classified as violent felonies, you will be sentenced to at least 3-6 years in prison even if you do not have any prior felony convictions. If based on your prior felony convictions you are classified as a non-violent predicate offender, a violent predicate offender, or a persistent felony offender, you will be required to serve even more prison time for conviction of any robbery offense. Furthermore, if you are a persistent felony offender, the judge is the not bound by the maximum sentence requirement of 15 years for second degree robbery or 25 years for first degree robbery. If the situation warrants it, the judge can sentence you to up to life in prison.

Other factors that will influence sentencing are the specific circumstances of your case. For example, if the property that you stole has a particularly high value, the judge might consider that to be an aggravating factor and give you a longer prison sentence. Similarly, if you used a great deal of violence in the course of the robbery and as a result caused the victim to suffer serious physical injuries, the judge would consider this to be another aggravating factor. On the other hand, there may be mitigating factors that would cause the judge to give you less time in prison. For example, the judge will look favorably upon you returning the stolen property or paying 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 different from a fine. It is money that you would have to pay to the victim to cover out-of-pocket expenses that result from the robbery. For example, you may be ordered to pay the value of the property stolen, as well as the victim's medical expenses. Generally, the maximum amount of restitution is $15,000. Furthermore, you will also have to pay a fee to the company that has the job of 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.

Failure to pay a fine, restitution, or fee you could face another criminal charge.

Post-Release Supervision

If convicted of robbery with a firearm 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 make sure that when you leave prison you experience a smooth re-integration into the community and reduce the possibility that you re-offend. There will be several rules that you must follow during the term of your post-release supervision is overseen. The Division of Parole oversees post-release supervision. Some of the rules that you must follow may include:

  • You must not break the law
  • You must not associate with others who have criminal records
  • You must not go to unlawful or disreputable places
  • You must not possess or use a controlled substance
  • You must refrain from consuming alcohol excessively
  • 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 robbery with a firearm 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 difficult. For example, finding a job may be difficult as most employers perform background checks on prospective employees. If a prospective employer discovers your criminal record that employer may be hesitant to hire you. In addition, you will be barred from getting certain professional licenses such as a law license or a teaching license. You will not be able to own a gun, serve in the military, or serve on juries. Some colleges may refuse to admit you. You will not be eligible for 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 under federal immigration laws.

Robbery with a firearm is one of the most serious criminal charges in New York. If you are convicted you will end up in prison and spend many years away from your family and friends. Because of what is at stake it is important to have experienced representation who understands the defenses to robbery charges. The staff at Stephen Bilkis & Associates, PLLC has years of experience successfully defending clients in New York criminal courts who have been charged with robbery offenses such as robbery with a firearm, armed robbery, robbery in the first degree and robbery in the second degree as well as other types of theft such as petit larceny, 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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