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New York Robbery in the First Degree

Robbery is a very serious crime. If you are accused of robbery, you are accused of stealing. Not only are you accused of stealing, you are accused of using force or the threat of violence to accomplish the theft. Because of the added component of force or violence, law enforcement considers robbery to be a particularly serious crime. While there are three degrees of the crime of robbery, robbery in the first degree is the most serious. If you are charged with robbery in the first degree, you have been accused of seriously injuring the victim or using a weapon. If you are convicted the judge could sentence you to prison for over 25 years. If you have been charged with robbery in the first degree it is important to immediately contact an experienced New York Robbery in the First Degree Lawyer who understands which defenses are available to defend robbery charges and who will aggressively defend you against the charges. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates have decades of experience representing clients who have been charged with assault and other serious crimes such as domestic violence, grand larceny, and sex crimes. Find out what we can do for you by contacting us to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case.

Robbery in the First Degree

Robbery in the first degree is the most serious robbery offense. You will face this charge if you steal from someone and you are armed with a deadly weapon, use a dangerous instrument, cause the victim or another person to suffer a serious physical injury, or display a gun.

Deadly weapon

A deadly weapon is any loaded weapon such as a gun, a switchblade knife, gravity knife, pilum ballistic knife, metal knuckle knife, dagger, billy knife, blackjack knife, plastic knuckles, or metal knuckles. N.Y. Pen. Law § 10.00(12). For example, in People v. Toye, 967 N.Y.S.2d 210 (2013), the defendant was convicted of robbery in the first degree. Defendant Lionel Toye did not display a gun or other weapon, but told the victim that he had a gun in his pocket. The victim testified that there was something bulky in the defendant's pocket that resembled the shape of a gun.

Dangerous instrument

If you use a dangerous instrument to rob someone, you will be charged with robbery in the first degree. A "dangerous instrument" is any instrument, article or substance that can cause death or serious physical injury. N.Y. Pen. Law § 10.00(13). Whether or not an item is determined to be a dangerous instrument is not necessarily dependent on what the object is, but on how the defendant uses the object.

In People v. Hiraeta, 986 N.Y.S.2d 217 (2014), after the defendant used a bike chain to beat the victim the court found that under these circumstances the bike chain was indeed a dangerous instrument as defined by the criminal statute. Similarly, in People v. Reckovic , 953 N.Y.S.2d 210 (2012), the defendant threatened to use a knife. The court concluded that the knife qualified as a dangerous instrument because a knife can readily cause death or a serious injury under the circumstances that the defendant used it. In another case an imitation pistol was determined to be a dangerous instrument. In People v. Plummer, 944 N.Y.S.2d 134 (2012),during the course of a robbery defendant Mikequann Plummer hit the victim on the back of the head with an imitation pistol. As a result the victims suffered a painful, bloody laceration.

Injury to the victim

If you cause physical injury to the victim or a third party who is not a participant in the robbery, you will be charged with robbery in the second degree. Under New York law the term "physical injury" means an injury that causes the impairment of physical condition or substantial pain. N.Y. Pen. Law § 10.00(9).

Displays a gun

According to the statute, if you use a pistol, revolver, rifle shotgun, machine gun or other firearm while committing a robbery, you may be charged with robbery in the first degree. However, a defense to such a charge is that the firearm was not loaded or was not capable of causing death or serious physical injury. For example, in People v. Perez, 942 N.Y.S.2d 227 (2012), defendant Victor Perez used a BB gun to rob the victim. Defendant argued that the BB gun was not loaded and was not capable of causing death or serious physical injury. Testimony from the victim and the police contradicted Perez's contentions. As the victim fled from the defendant, she heard pops from the BB gun, indicating that the defendant fired it and that it was loaded. The police testified that BB guns are capable of causing death or serious injury.

Consequences of a robbery in the first degree conviction

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


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 history 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 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, 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.

In the case of People v. Jurgins, 950 N.Y.S.2d 493 (2010) the defendant pleaded 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 the court added 3 additional years because at the time of the robbery the victim was operating a vehicle for hire.

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 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, 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 robbery part of your sentence may be post-release supervision of up to 5 years. It 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 break the law
  • You must not associate with other people who you know have criminal records
  • 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 stick to a curfew
  • You must have job

If you violate any of the terms of your post-release supervision you will receive a revocation hearing before a judge. Based on the evidence presented, the judge may allow you to continue with the post-release supervision with the terms undisturbed, require you to go back to jail for a period and then return to post-release supervision status, or require you to return to prison to complete your original sentence plus additional time for violating your post-release supervision.

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 and 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 your prison sentence. You will have a criminal record that will negatively impact many aspects of your life such as getting a job. You will be completely excluded from practicing in certain professions such as law or teaching. You will not be able to own a gun, serve in the military, or serve on juries. You will not be able to receive certain government benefits such as welfare or federally funded housing. If you are not a U.S. citizen under federal law you will face deportation.

Request a free consultation with the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

If you have been charged with robbery in the first degree, you face the possibility of spending years in prison. Because so much is at stake it is important that you immediately seek experienced legal guidance. The staff at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates 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 the third degree, grand larceny, embezzlement, and burglary. Contact us at 800.696.9529 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We serve those accused of robbery in the following locations: the Bronx, Brooklyn, Long Island, Manhattan, Nassau County, Queens, Staten Island, Suffolk County and Westchester County.

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