What is the Definition of Robbery in Pennsylvania?
In late May, Pennsylvania State Police were called to a general store in Porter Township. After hearing the security alarm, a tenant claims that a man stole several firearms from the store. The tenant and store owner approached the man, at which time the suspect pointed a firearm at both of them while uttering threats. The man then ran off before police arrived and law enforcement is now asking the public for their help in identifying the robbery suspect.
Due to the fact that the man entered the store to commit a crime, some may consider this as a crime of burglary. So, why is it being characterized as robbery by law enforcement?
Robbery Defined in Pennsylvania
The term robbery in Pennsylvania is an umbrella term to describe a number of different types of offenses. However, robbery is defined in the state as the use of force against a person, or threatening to use force, while committing a theft crime. Unlike burglary, while someone may enter a building to steal something, robbery specifically involves the use or threatened use of force. Another element that differentiates robbery from burglary is that robbery can happen anywhere and a person does not always have to enter a structure to commit the crime.
It is important to note that a person also does not have to actually commit a theft to be convicted of robbery. The attempt to commit theft is enough for the prosecution to secure a conviction for the offense. Additionally, some Pennsylvania appellate courts have determined that the force used must be more force than is required to complete the theft.
Type of Robbery in Pennsylvania
Again, there are many different types of robbery charges a person may face within the state. These different offenses include:
- Robbery of a controlled substance that resulted in serious bodily injury
- Robbery of a controlled substance that involves the threat of serious bodily injury
- Robbery of a controlled substance in which a person also threatens to commit another felony offense in either the first or second degree
- Robbery in which a person also threatens to commit another felony offense in either the first or second degree
- Robbery that results in serious bodily injury
- Robbery that involves the threat of serious bodily injury
- Robbery of a motor vehicle that resulted in serious bodily injury
- Robbery of a motor vehicle that did not result in serious bodily injury
- Robbery of a financial institution by commanding an employee to do something, either orally or through a note
- Robbery by force, however slight
All of these offenses, even the least serious, robbery by force, however slight, is considered a felony in Pennsylvania.
Our Pennsylvania Criminal Defense Lawyers can Help with Your Case
Being charged with committing a crime as serious as robbery is a very scary experience. At van der Veen, O’Neill, Hartshorn, and Levin, our experienced Philadelphia criminal defense lawyers are here to help. We understand the defenses to the various types of robbery in the state and we will use them to give you the best chance of a successful outcome. Call us today at 215-515-6892 or contact us online for a free case evaluation.