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New York Robbery

Robbery is one of several theft crimes defined in New York Penal Law. Other types of theft include petit larceny, grand larceny, embezzlement and burglary. The primary factor that distinguishes robbery from other theft crimes is that robbery involves the use of force. In other words the crime of robbery involves using force or threats of physical harm to take property from another person. For example, if you walk into a convenience store, display a gun and demand that the clerk give you all of the money in the cash register, you would have committed robbery. On the other hand if you walk into a convenience store, slip a few items into your bag and leave without paying for them you would not have committed a robbery, but petit larceny. Because of the component of force involved in robbery, it is a felony. If you are convicted the judge could sentence you to prison for several years. If you have been charged with robbery it is important to immediately contact an experienced New York Robbery Lawyer who will understand the best course of action to 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.

Types of robbery

Under New York Penal Law there are three different robbery offenses: robbery in the third degree, robbery in the second degree, and robbery in the first degree. Each offense involves forcible stealing. You will face a more serious robbery charge if you use a weapon to commit the robbery, if the victim is physically injured, or if another person aids you in the robbery. N.Y. Pen. Law § 160

Robbery in the first degree is a class D felony. You will face this offense if while committing larceny you use or threaten to use physical force in order to prevent the victim from resisting or in order to overcome resistance from the victim. 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 as wrongfully taking, obtaining, or withholding property with the intent of depriving another person of that property. N.Y. Pen. Law § 155.05. To face a robbery in the third degree charge it is not required that you cause the victim physical injury. It is just required that you use to threat of physical force to accomplish the robbery.

In order to be charged with third degree robbery you must somehow use force or threaten to use force. New York courts have found that if you place your hand in your pocket in order to make the victim believe that you have a gun that is enough to sustain a charge of robbery in the third degree. However, simply having your hand in your pocket is not enough. For example, in People v. Johnson, 972 N.Y.S.2d 699 (2013), the defendant's conviction of robbery in the third degree was overturned on appeal. While the victim did indeed take property from the victim's warehouse, the defendant did not have any weapons or do anything else to try to steal from the victim by using force. According to the defendant's testimony, he place his hand in his pocket in order find his keys so that he could flee the scene and quickly drive away. There was no evidence that the defendant had his hand in his pocket to make the victim believe that there was a gun in the defendant's pocket.

Robbery in the second degree is a class C felony. You will face this charge if while committing robbery in the first degree you are also aided by another person who is present during the robbery. This is referred to as accomplice liability. For example, in People v. Vicioso, 983 N.Y.S.2d 691 (2014), the defendant was charged with robbery in the second degree. Vicioso and another person named Barnes approached a cab. While Vicioso opened the passenger door, Barnes pointed a gun at the victim and demanded money. Vicioso was charged as an accomplice because he aided Barnes in the commission of the robbery.

You will also face this charge if you display a gun or firearm, or if you cause physical injury to the victim or a third party. Regardless of any other factor if you steal a vehicle, you will be charged with at least robbery in the second degree. A gun or firearm includes a pistol, revolver, rifle, shotgun or machine gun. N.Y. Pen. Law § 160.10. 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)

For example, in the case of People v. Martinez, 983 N.Y.S.2d 839 (2014), defendant Christian Martinez was convicted of robbery in the second degree based on having followed the victim and demanding property. In addition, Martinez punched and kicked the victim several times. The victim experienced substantial pain as well as bleeding from his face, nose and mouth.

If you are charged with robbery in the second degree based on displaying a gun, the statute does not require that you display the gun during the robbery. It is sufficient that you displayed the gun during flight after the robbery. For example, in the case of People v. Colon, 984 N.Y.S.2d 438 (2014), defendant Nelson Colon was convicted of robbery in the second degree based on witness testimony that Colon displayed what appeared to be a gun as he fled the scene.

Robbery in the third degree is a class B felony. Robbery in the first degree is the most serious robbery charge. You will face this charge if you commit a robbery and you also

  • Cause serious physical injury to the victim or a third person;
  • Are armed with a deadly weapon; or
  • Use or threaten to use a dangerous instrument; or
  • Display what appears to be a pistol, revolver, rifle, shotgun, machine gun or other firearm

Robbery in the first degree is a class B felony. N.Y. Pen. Law § 160.15

The criminal code has specific definitions of serious physical injury, deadly weapon, and dangerous instrument. A "serious physical injury" is a physical injury that creates a substantial risk of death, causes death, causes serious disfigurement, causes protracted impairment of health, or causes loss of the function of any bodily organ. N.Y. Pen. Law § 10.00(10). A "deadly weapon" is 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. N.Y. Pen. Law § 10.00(12). A "dangerous instrument" is any instrument, article or substance that can cause death or serious physical injury. N.Y. Pen. Law § 10.00(13)

Consequences of a robbery conviction

If you are convicted of any robbery offense there is a strong possibility that your sentence may include incarceration, a fine, restitution, post-release supervision or probation.


Whether or not you are sent to prison and the length of time you must spend in prison depends largely on the seriousness of the robbery offense of which you are convicted and your prior criminal record. The general guidelines for robbery sentencing are as follows:

  • Class D felony. The maximum possible sentence is 7 years in prison.
  • Class C felony . The maximum possible sentence is 15 years in prison.
  • Class B felony. The maximum possible sentence is 25 years in prison.

However, the actual length of your prison sentence will depend on factors such as your prior criminal record. If you have no prior felony convictions within the previous 10 years, for a robbery in the third degree conviction it is possible for the judge to not sentence you to any prison time at all. Your sentence may include just probation. However, because robbery in the second degree and robbery in the first degree are both classified as violent felonies, you will be sentenced to at least 3-6 years in prison even if 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 at least some prison time for conviction of any robbery offense.

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 if you caused the victim to suffer an injury during the robbery. 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 responsible for collecting the restitution from you.

Furthermore, you will be required to pay certain fees including 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 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 your sentence that requires you to pay.


If you are convicted of robbery your sentence may include probation. The term of probation would be 5 years. While serving your probation sentence you will be subject to many rules. If you break any of the rules a judge could revoke your probation and resentence you to prison.

  • You must not commit a crime. Even a minor infraction could result in a probation violation.
  • 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 Probation Officer
  • You must regularly report to your Probation 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 or be enrolled in school
Post-release supervision

If convicted of robbery part of your sentence may be post-release supervision of up to 5 years. Like probation, while you serve your term of post-release supervision there will be several rules that you must follow. 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.

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

Any robbery charge is a very serious charge. If you are convicted there is a good chance that you will end up in prison. If you are convicted of the most serious robbery charge you could end up prison for over 2 decades. Because of the dire consequences of being convicted of robbery, it is important to have experienced representation. 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 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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