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New York Robbery with a Deadly Weapon

Robbery is one of several theft crimes defined in New York Penal Law. While like other theft crimes such as larceny, embezzlement and burglary robbery involves stealing, it is different from other crimes of theft in that it involves the use of force. For example, if you corner someone in an alley, punch him and demand that he give you his wallet, you would have committed a robbery. On the other hand if you walk past that same person and slip his wallet out of his pocket, then you would not have committed a robbery. You would have committed larceny. There are three types of robbery: robbery in the third degree, robbery in the second degree, and robbery in the first degree. 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 one of the most serious crimes. If you are convicted you could be sent to prison for up to 25 years. If you have been charged with robbery with a deadly weapon it is important to immediately contact an experienced New York Robbery with a Deadly Weapon Lawyer who will review the facts of your case and aggressively defend you against the charges.

Robbery with a Deadly Weapon

Using a deadly weapon to commit a robbery raises the seriousness of the crime to robbery in the first degree. Of the three robbery offenses in New York's criminal code, robbery in the first degree is the most serious robbery offense.

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 gun is a deadly weapon that is commonly used in robberies. In order for the prosecution to sustain a charge of robbery in the first degree based on the presence of a gun, the prosecutor must show that there was strong evidence that the defendant had a gun. 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 gave the Grant $1810.00. At trial the defendant argued that the note was not sufficient evidence that he actually had a gun. The appeals court agreed and reversed his conviction of robbery in the first degree. On the other hand, in People v. Toye, 967 N.Y.S.2d 210 (2013), the defendant was convicted of robbery in the first degree even though he did not display a gun or other weapon. The defendant simply told the victim that he had a gun in his pocket and the victim testified that there was a bulge in Toye's pocket that resembled a gun. The victim testified in People v. Jiminez, 826 N.Y.S.2d 837 (2007), that defendant Julio Jiminez pointed a gun at her and threatened to kill her unless she gave him money from the cash register. Based on this testimony the defendant was convicted of robbery in the first degree.

A knife is also a deadly weapon that is frequently used to commit robbery in the first degree. 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 robbery in the first degree based on using a deadly weapon first you will be taken to the local police precinct. Within 24 hours of your arrest you will be arraigned. 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, there is a good change that you will also be charged with criminal possession of stolen property 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. There are rules regarding plea bargains and indicted felony cases. Since robbery in the first degree is a Class B 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. If you are not able to reach a plea agreement with the prosecutor then your case will go to trial.

Consequences of a Robbery in the First Degree Conviction

If you are convicted of robbery with a deadly weapon you will definitely be sentenced to serve at least 5 years in prison. In addition, your sentence may also include a term of post-release supervision, a fine, and restitution.


Because robbery with a deadly weapon 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.

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 robbery with a deadly weapon 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 not possess a gun
  • 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 deadly weapon there will be consequences that will affect your life even after you serve your prison sentence and your term of post-release supervision. 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 you 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. Other schools may admit you but refuse to allow you to live on campus. 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 a 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 robbery with a deadly weapon as well as other theft crimes such as robbery in the first degree, 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.

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