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What is aggravated robbery?

Aggravated robbery charges involve theft which includes the use of a deadly weapon, accomplice, or infliction of serious bodily injury on the victim. Robbery is defined as the taking of the property of another person through force, threat of force, or putting the victim in fear. Aggravated robbery is a more severe charge than robbery. It is typically charged as a felony, an offense punishable by a year or more in prison.

Aggravated Robbery

States typically enhance the penalties for aggravated robberies committed on elderly persons, persons with serious mental health issues, and persons with severe developmental or physical disabilities. The definition of aggravated robbery differs across states. Typically, the deadly weapon in an aggravated robbery is a gun or knife. Many states view any object that could cause the victim to suffer a deadly harm as a deadly weapon. Some states view hands and feet as deadly weapons.

Aggravated robbery can be charged as a state or federal crime. In order for the offense to be charged as a federal crime, the affected party must be directly or indirectly protected by federal law. The three institutions that are protected by federal law from aggravated robberies are banks, the United States Postal Office, and interstate commerce.

Common Defenses

A common defense to aggravated robbery is that of mistaken identity: the alleged offender was not the party involved in the incident. Other defenses typically involve negating one of the elements of the crime. A defense attorney may argue the alleged offender owned the property that was taken or the alleged offender did not use force or threat of force and the victim was not put in fear. A defense attorney may also argue the alleged offender did not possess a specific intent to take the property and came to possess the property by mistake or accident.

Generally, it is not a defense if the weapon in the incident was not a deadly weapon. State laws typically ask whether a reasonable person could have believed the alleged offender possessed a deadly weapon at the time the incident occurred. In certain cases, a reasonable person could have believed a toy gun, stick, or concealed hand was a deadly weapon.


The penalties for aggravated robbery can include incarceration, fines, restitution to the victim, probation, imposition of a restraining order, and community service. Some states have passed laws that require individuals convicted of aggravated robbery to suffer stiffer penalties as their number of convictions for violent crimes increases. A number of states have passed laws that require individuals convicted of aggravated robbery to serve a fixed number of years for the offense. This type of statute creates a mandatory minimum sentence.

A victim of an aggravated robbery has the right to sue their robber in civil court for financial damages. This is true even after a criminal court has ordered the offender to compensate the victim for medical bills. The victim can request the civil court to enter a conviction as evidence that the robber is liable to them for further damages. The amount of damages that a victim of an aggravated robbery can recover is determined by the facts of the case, state law, and the judge or jury in civil court.

Click here to learn about armed robbery.

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