Robbery is one of those crimes that you should take very seriously if you are charged with it. The crime suggests an element of violence and it is not taken lightly by the law. The consequences for being found guilty of committing a robbery are very severe.

But those consequences are made even worse when there is a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument involved. Just the presence of such a weapon or instrument can lead to more dire consequences should you be found guilty. In order to understand how armed robbery works on Long Island, we must first understand what defines and separates robbery from a crime like burglary.

What Separates Burglary from Robbery?

Robbery fits into a category of crimes alongside theft and burglary. Each of these crimes involves the taking of possessions or assets that belong to another individual without their permission. But there is a very important difference that separates robbery from the others.

Burglary defines itself based on the location of the crime in question. For a theft to be a burglary it requires that the individual committing the theft steals from a building or a home. It is important that they’re entry into the building is due to the intent to steal. It is not, however, important that they break and enter into the building. A burglary can occur even when an individual is invited in. But typically the consequences for a burglary are lesser if nobody was present in the building when the crime was committed.

A robbery, as defined under Penal Law Article 160, involves a face-to-face confrontation with the victim of the crime. To rob somebody is to take from them by force or fear. It can occur on their property but it doesn’t have to. A mugging in a dark alley is a form of robbery. If the mugger uses violence then it will be a robbery of the second or first degree, while a non-violent robbery will fall under robbery of the third degree. The level of injury a person sustains as a victim of a robbery goes a long way towards determining the severity of the crime and its subsequent consequences.

So robbery is a form of theft but one that requires there to be a confrontation and thereby a higher risk and occurrence of violence. But it gets worse when it becomes an armed robbery.

When is a Robbery Considered “Armed”?

For a robbery to be considered armed it must be committed with either a deadly weapon or a dangerous instrument. Most people understand the first category pretty instinctually but the second is a bit of a head scratcher.

  • Deadly Weapon: A deadly weapon is pretty self-explanatory. Weapons such as knives, guns, blackjacks, brass knuckles or the like fall under deadly weapons. Even something like a BB gun could be considered a deadly weapon in the eyes of the law, though you might not consider it to be one yourself. A weapon may appear to be deadly but actually be proven to not be capable of causing serious harm, which is a popular defensive tactic when it comes to armed robbery cases.
  • Dangerous Instrument: A dangerous instrument is something that could cause death or serious physical injury but is not in-and-of-itself a weapon. While it is hard to see one used in a robbery, a car would be a pretty straight-forward example of a dangerous instrument. Somebody could purposefully hit somebody with a car with the intent of injuring them; it is not a weapon, really, but it is an extremely dangerous instrument which could do as much damage as a weapon if it is used with intent to harm. Even a brick or rock could be a dangerous instrument depending on how it is used.

What are the Consequences for Armed Robbery?

In most cases, armed robbery will fall under the dictates of robbery of the first degree. This is true even when the weapon is not seen, such as in People v. Toye, where the defendant was convicted of robbery of the first degree despite never showing a weapon. They told the victim that they had a gun in their pocket and the victim told the court that they did appear to have a gun-sized bulge in their pocket. Thus they were convinced that their life was in danger from a deadly weapon and the crime fell under robbery of the first degree.

As such, it is likely that an armed robbery conviction will be a robbery of the first degree conviction. This is the most serious form of robbery charge there is and as such it comes with the most severe consequences. The minimum time in prison for an armed robbery conviction is five years and the maximum is up to twenty-five years. When you consider that this charge could take away a quarter of your life, it is easy to see why you can’t take it lightly.

What Should I Do if I’m Charged with Armed Robbery?

A good attorney is a must when it comes to armed robbery charges. One of the best defenses there is against an armed robbery charge is to show that the defendant either wasn’t armed or that they were incapable of committing serious harm with their instrument. For example, an armed robbery with a gun might be argued down to a lesser charge by showing that the defendant’s gun was actually a prop or toy and thereby incapable of causing serious bodily harm to the victim.

A defense line like this is just one of the approaches that an attorney could take in defending you but it isn’t the only. But you require an attorney that has experience in defending people just like you if you want to get the best results. That is why Mirsky Law Firm invites you to call us at (516) 299-6187 to learn more about how we can help defend you in your armed robbery case.