Skip to content


Robbery Definition

Robbery occurs when an individual takes with the intent to steal property from another or in their presence against their will by violence or the threat of force. Robbery is often confused with traditional theft; however, it is distinguished by the more violent nature of the crime. Typical weapons that are used in robberies are firearms, knives, other dangerous weapons or physical force.

How to Know Whether a Robbery Has Occurred?

One of the most important aspects of knowing whether a robbery has occurred is differentiating robbery from traditional types of theft such as larceny or burglary. To qualify as a robbery rather than a traditional theft, there needs to be an element of violence present, and the criminal must have the intent to use violence or force to steal the property from the victim. If the criminal uses a weapon, that can aggravate the robbery charge to armed robbery, which is a much more severe charge. Even if the victim is not directly injured, the offense can still be robbery.

An important fact to understand about robbery is that a robbery charge is not merely stealing a victim’s wallet. A robbery can also occur when a criminal or group of criminals decide to rob a bank. What escalates this offense to robbery is the use of force or a deadly weapon when forcing the teller to hand over the money.

Is Force or Violence Required to Commit Robbery?

Defining what level of force or violence is required to commit a robbery can be difficult and also depends on the state where the robbery takes place. There is no clear definition about what exact level of force or violence is required to commit a robbery. What is important is that in robbery charges, there is always an element of violence or force present to differentiate the offense from other theft charges.

There does not need to be a direct threat of violence in order to prove a robbery charge. For example, if the criminal is much taller and the victim is intimidated by their appearance, then this could also be a robbery charge.

What Is the Punishment for Robbery?

Punishments for robbery charges can vary greatly due to the specific facts of the case and which state the robbery occurred in. Individuals that committed robbery are likely to spend time in prison and can even have sentences as high as 20 years depending on the severity of the robbery charge. Many states have both minimum and maximum sentencing guidelines that will determine how long a person convicted of robbery will stay in prison. In some cases, fines can also be imposed with the objective of returning financial loss to victims.

What Are the Different Degrees of Severity of Robbery Charges?

Robbery charges are usually handled by each state’s individual statutes. If a criminal commits a bank robbery, the punishment is going to be far more severe and is also handled under federal law. In the case of a bank robbery, there are often other charges involved related to kidnapping, which can also make the offense more severe. If the victim is killed in a robbery, the sentence will escalate considerably to life in prison or the death penalty.

Robbery is a charge that is taken very seriously. At times, robberies can involve other criminal defenses, which will greatly impact the overall duration of the criminal’s sentence. Knowing each state’s statutes on robbery is important to understand the exact sentencing time period and possible fines associated with robbery charges. Working with an attorney will help defendants to get the best possible outcome if they have multiple charges and one of them is robbery.

Robbery Glossary Definition

Robbery is when an individual takes another’s property by using the threat of force, intimidation or violence. Robbery is similar to burglary and larceny; however, what distinguishes it as a charge of robbery is the use of force and violence. Both weapons and physical force can be used to commit robbery. The severity of the robbery charge will depend on the state it occurred in and the particular facts of the case.