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Understanding Robbery in Pennsylvania

May 30, 2019

By van der Veen, Hartshorn, Levin & Lindheim

A Jamestown, Pennsylvania man was arrested at the end of April on robbery charges. He drove his friend to the park before ordering him to strip naked at gunpoint. After allegedly firing a single shot around the victim, the man then took all his friend’s belongings and drove off. The man now faces several charges, one of which is robbery. So, what constitutes robbery in Pennsylvania, and how is it different than regular theft?

Robbery Defined Under Pennsylvania Law

In Pennsylvania, theft is defined as the unlawful taking, withholding, or controlling of another person’s property without their permission. Generally speaking, the theft must also occur with the intent to deprive the owner of the property, or to benefit the person taking the property. All types of theft certainly fall under this definition. However, the legal statute for robbery includes one distinct element of the crime.

That is the element of using force or fear in order to take another person’s belongings. It was likely due to the fact that accused not only made his friend strip, but also fired a shot near his friend. He was charged with robbery. This force used in conjunction with a theft crime can occur during a theft, an attempted theft, or while the accused is fleeing from a theft.

Under Pennsylvania’s robbery statute, theft from a financial institution is also considered robbery. For example, if a person slipped a note to a bank teller demanding they fill a bag with money and hand it over, this is considered robbery even if no weapon, force, or threats were used during the crime. Carjacking is also considered a type of robbery in Pennsylvania.

Penalties for Robbery in Pennsylvania

Robbery is taken very seriously in Pennsylvania and as such, it carries with it harsh penalties. Robbery in the first-degree occurs when the accused threatens to inflict, or inflicts serious bodily injury. Carjacking is also considered a first-degree felony. Both are punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

If the accused inflicted only minor injuries, or threatened to only inflict minor injuries, the prosecution may charge it as a second-degree robbery. Theft from financial institutions are also considered second-degree robberies. If convicted, those accused face up to ten years in prison.

Lastly, taking property by force is considered a third-degree felony and is punishable by up to seven years in prison.

Accused of Robbery? Call Our Pennsylvania Criminal Defense Lawyers Today

Robbery is a serious crime in Pennsylvania, but our Allentown criminal defense lawyers know that all too often, those accused are innocent. If you’re facing robbery charges, contact van der Veen, Hartshorn, Levin & Lindheim at (215) 486-0123 today. We’ll create a solid defense for you and refute the prosecution’s arguments so you can retain your freedom. Don’t try to beat these charges on your own. We have the experience to give you your best chance of success in court. Call us today or fill out our online form to learn more about how we can help with your case.


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