Robbery is a very serious crime under Pennsylvania law just as it is under the laws of every jurisdiction in the United States. “Robbery” occurs when, in the course of committing a theft, the actor uses or threatens to use force against another person.
Under Pennsylvania law, there is no separate offense for “armed robbery” as the term is often used — all robberies other than robbery of a motor vehicle (“carjacking”) are punishable under the Pennsylvania Robbery statute, 18 Pa.C.S.A. §3701. Robbery of a motor vehicle is a separate, Felony 1 offense pursuant to 18 Pa.C.S.A. §3702.
Under Pennsylvania law, all robberies constitute Felony offenses of varying degrees with a Felony 1 offense carrying the greatest possible penalties and a Felony 3 carrying the least (to learn more about the grading of offenses under PA law and the maximum penalties, see here).
The “grading” of robbery offenses (whether or not the offense constitutes a Felony 1, a Felony 2, or a Felony 3) as well as the minimum sentencing exposure (a function of what is called the “offense gravity score” or OGS) depends on whether or not the object of the theft was a controlled substance as well as the amount of force used or threatened by the actor in the course of committing the theft.
Understanding The Charges
In descending order of seriousness, Pennsylvania law penalizes robbery as follows:
- Robbery of a controlled substance during which “serious bodily injury” is inflicted — Felony 1, OGS 13
- Robbery during which “serious bodily injury” is inflicted — Felony 1, OGS 12
- Robbery of a motor vehicle with “serious bodily injury” — 18 Pa.C.S.A. §3702, Felony 1, OGS 12
- Robbery of a controlled substance during which “serious bodily injury” is threatened — Felony 1, OGS 11
- Robbery during which “serious bodily injury” is threatened — Felony 1, OGS 10
- Robbery of a controlled substance during which the actor commits or threatens to commit any other felony of the first or second degree — Felony 1, OGS 10
- Robbery during which the actor commits or threatens to commit any other felony of the first or second degree — Felony 1, OGS 9
- Robbery of a motor vehicle without “serious bodily injury” — 18 Pa.C.S.A. §3702, Felony 1, OGS 9
- Robbery of a controlled substance during which “bodily injury” is threatened or inflicted — Felony 1, OGS 8
- Robbery during which “bodily injury” is threatened or inflicted — Felony 2, OGS 7
- Robbery of a financial institution by making a demand of an employee orally or by note — Felony 2, OGS 7
- Robbery by “force however slight”— Felony 3, OGS 5
Here are some important points to note:
Robbery does not require that there be a completed theft. The crime of robbery is complete where force is used during an attempted theft. A jury may convict an individual of robbery even where the individual was unsuccessful in obtaining anything from the victim. Commonwealth. v. Lloyd, 545 A.2d. 890, 892 (Pa. Super. 1988).
It is also interesting to note that the Pennsylvania appellate courts have concluded for the crime of robbery to be complete, the “force” used in the act of committing or attempting the theft must be more than the mere “force” required to separate an individual from his or her property.
In Commonwealth v. Smith, 481 A.2d. 1352 (Pa. Super. 1984), an extremely interesting and somewhat bizarre case, the defendant was convicted of robbery after the testimony showed that he had picked a blind man’s pocket by removing a protruding pack of cigarettes from his pants. The blind man was unaware that the theft had occurred until later when he reached for his cigarettes. The Pennsylvania Superior Court reversed the defendant’s robbery conviction, reasoning that because the victim was unaware of the theft, did not resist, and had not been threatened, no “force” had been used to commit the theft as contemplated by the Pennsylvania robbery statute.
Don’t Wait To Take Action
If you or a loved one have been charged with robbery, act quickly and contact the State College criminal defense lawyers at Rehmeyer & Allatt. Robbery is a serious offense and a conviction for robbery can have life-altering consequences. The State College criminal defense attorneys at Rehmeyer & Allatt have extensive experience representing individuals charged with robbery and other serious felony offenses. Contact our State College office today for a free consultation. Call 814-343-0453 or email us now.