New York Robbery with a Knife

Robbery is a type of theft that involves using force. Unlike larceny where you try to take another person's property without that person realizing it, robbery involves confronting the victim and demanding money, merchandise or other property. A common way that people commit robbery is by using a deadly weapon or a dangerous instrument such as a knife. Because robbery with a knife is such a dangerous crime, New York legislature has determined that the punishment for such a crime should be severe. The charge for robbing someone using a knife is robbery in the first degree. If you are convicted of robbery with a knife, you will not receive a mere "slap on the wrist." You will be sentenced to several years in prison. In addition to being incarcerated you will also be ordered to pay thousands of dollars in fines. If you have been charged with robbery in the first degree based on using a knife, it is important to immediately contact an experienced New York Robbery with a Knife Lawyer who will review the facts of your case and work closely with you to vigorously defend you against the criminal charges.

Robbery in the First Degree

If you are accused of robbery with a knife, the criminal charge that you will face is robbery in the first degree. Robbery in the first degree is the most serious robbery offense. It involves using a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument during the commission of a robbery.

Deadly weapon. Under the New York criminal code certain types of knives are considered deadly weapons including a switchblade knife, gravity knife, pilum ballistic knife, metal knuckle knife, dagger, billy knife, and blackjack knife. N.Y. Pen. Law § 10.00(12).

Dangerous instrument. A knife can also be considered to be a dangerous instrument. A dangerous instrument is defined as any instrument, article or substance that can cause death or serious physical injury. N.Y. Pen. Law § 10.00(13). Even if the knife is not the type of knife that would be classified as a deadly weapon, it may be still classified as a dangerous instrument based on how it is used during a robbery.

For example, in People v. Reckovic, 953 N.Y.S.2d 210 (2012), the defendant threatened to use a knife. The court concluded that even though the knife used by the defendant in the robbery was not necessarily a deadly weapon, the knife qualified as a dangerous instrument because it could readily cause death or a serious injury under the circumstances that the defendant used it. In another case the defendant used a gravity knife in the course of a robbery. In People v. Inesti, 944 N.Y.S.2d 148 (2012), defendant Mark Inesti fled a store with a bag of merchandise. The store manager pursued him. Inesti then turned around and wave a gravity knife at the store manager. Inesti was convicted of robbery in the first degree. Similarly, in People v. Sharma, 976 N.Y.S.2d 468 (2013), defendant Dennis Sharma was convicted of robbery in the first degree based on using a knife during the robbery of a store. When an employee of the store attempted to stop Sharma from stealing the merchandise Sharma displayed the knife. The court concluded that in doing so Sharma threatened the immediate use of a dangerous instrument for the purpose of preventing or overcoming resistance to his retention of the property. While the court acknowledged that displaying a knife does not necessarily mean that the defendant intended to use it, in this case there was no other reasonable explanation for why Sharma displayed the knife other than as a threat that he would use it against the employee.

Consequences of a Robbery in the First Degree Conviction

If you are convicted of robbery in the first degree based on displaying a knife you will go to prison for at least 5 years. In addition, your sentence will likely also include a fine, the payment of restitution, and a term of post-release supervision of up to 5 years.

Prison

Because robbery in the first degree is a Class B felony the maximum prison sentence is generally 25 years. However, the judge will determine your sentence based on factors such as your prior criminal record and aggravating or mitigating aspects of the robbery. Based on your criminal record, you will be classified 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 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, while the maximum sentence is life in prison. N.Y. Pen. Law § 70.08. In addition, if the property stolen has a relatively high value or if the amount of violence used was particularly excessive, the judge may consider these to be aggravating factors such that your sentence would include more prison time then you would have otherwise received. On the other hand, the judge may be incline to give you a lighter sentence if you returned the property to the victim.

In the case of People v. Jurgins, 950 N.Y.S.2d 493 (2010) the defendant plead guilty to robbery in the first degree. He was sentenced to a determinate sentence of 11 years in prison and 5 years of post-release supervision. The sentence would have been 8 years in prison, but an aggravating factor was the fact that at the time of the robbery the victim was operating a vehicle for hire. As a result the judge added an additional 3 years to Jurgins' sentence. In People v. Reckovic, 953 N.Y.S.2d 210 (2012) the defendant was convicted of robbery in the first degree. Because Reckovic was a second violent felony offender the judge sentenced him to 15 years in prison.

Fines, Fees and Restitution

In addition to sentencing you to prison 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 financial losses caused by 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 post-release 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. Furthermore, your wages may be garnished to recover the money you owe. However, if you cannot pay you can petition the court to lower the amount you must pay, give you a longer amount of time to pay or revoke the part of the sentencing requiring you to pay.

Post-Release Supervision

If convicted of robbery part of your sentence may be post-release supervision of up to 5 years. During your term of post-release supervision you will be supervised by the Division of Parole. While you serve your term of post-release supervision there will be several rules that you must follow such as:

  • You must not commit another crime. Even the smallest infract could send you back to prison
  • You must not associate with other people who have criminal backgrounds
  • You must not patronize unlawful or disreputable places
  • You must not possess controlled substances or drug paraphernalia
  • You must consent to warrantless searches without probable cause
  • 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
  • You must not own, possess or purchase a gun
  • You must refrain from the excessive use of alcohol
  • You must complete any ordered substance abuse treatment or medical treatment
  • You must have job or be enrolled in school

If you violate any of the terms of your post-release supervision you be ordered to attend a revocation hearing before a judge. If the judge finds that you have violated the terms of your post-release supervision, the judge can order that you return to prison.

Additional Charges

If you are charged with robbery in the first degree there is a strong possibility that you will face additional criminal charges such as criminal possession of stolen property, criminal possession of a weapon, menacing or assault. If you are convicted of additional felonies your sentence will be greatly impacted.

Criminal Record

Even if you are sentenced to just the minimum prison sentence of 5 years, there will be consequences of being convicted of robbery in the first degree that will last for years after you serve your prison sentence, serve your post-release supervision, and pay your fine, fees and restitution. You will have a criminal record that will negatively impact several aspects of your life such as getting the job of your choice. You will also be ineligible for certain government benefits. If you are not a U.S. citizen under federal law you will face deportation.

If you have been charged with robbery with a knife you face the possibility of spending decades or even the rest of your life in prison. Because so much is at stake it is important that you immediately seek experienced legal guidance. The staff at Stephen Bilkis & Associates, PLLC has years of experience successfully defending clients in New York criminal courts who have been charged with theft crimes such as robbery, larceny, embezzlement and burglary, as well as other types of crimes such as assault, menacing, reckless endangerment, stalking, rape, and child endangerment. 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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