UPDATED: February 6, 2020
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Aggravated robbery is a serious crime that involves not only a theft, but also injuries to the victim. Most states make a distinction between what is called simple robbery, or theft, and aggravated robbery. Aggravated robbery means the robber was armed with a deadly weapon, had an accomplice, or actually inflicted serious bodily harm on the victim.
Some states, like Illinois, include the threat of bodily harm in the definition of aggravated robbery. The definition of the crime may also include threatening someone with a weapon, even if the robber does not have one. For example, if a perpetrator points a fake gun at a victim and threatens to kill the victim if he does not hand over his wallet, the perpetrator can be charged with aggravated robbery even though the gun was not real.
While most laws dealing with robbery are controlled at the state level, there are three federal robbery statutes. The Federal Bank Robbery Act punishes bank robbers and includes additional penalties for the use of deadly weapons. Another statute punishes theft of government property from the mail service. The third, the Hobbs Act, comes closest to a federal aggravated robbery statute. It punishes the theft of property or property rights by “threatened or actual use of force, violence or fear.” The Hobbs Act has been used in cases involving organized crime.
Penalties for Aggravated Robbery
The penalty for an aggravated robbery conviction will vary depending on the circumstances. The value of the property stolen will be factored into the sentence. Other factors may include the use of a weapon and the type of weapon used, the presence of an accomplice, and whether or not the victim was harmed during the robbery. Punishments may include imprisonment, probation, fines, or some type of court-approved counseling or community service.
In most jurisdictions, aggravated robbery is considered a felony. In Texas, the sentence for aggravated robbery can range from five to ninety nine years in prison. The convicted person must also pay restitution to the victim. In Illinois, the range is four to fifteen years in prison with the possibility of the term being extended to thirty years.
While punishments are set by statute, the judge typically has some leeway while deciding sentencing. Other factors may mitigate the decision, such as the person’s past criminal record or the severity of any injuries to the victim. If the victim is a minor, elderly, or disabled, the punishment may be greater.
Aggravated Robbery Defenses
Aggravated robbery can difficult to defend in court, unless the wrong person has been identified as the robber. Experienced criminal lawyers may attempt to challenge the identification process and discredit eyewitness testimony as inaccurate. Other defenses may include a lack of evidence linking the perpetrator to the crime, and the rarer instance of the perpetrator being under the belief that he was the rightful owner of the property making his act an effort to retrieve it. If you are charged with aggravated robbery, you should consult a criminal defense attorney in your community.