Robbery involves the illegal taking of another person’s property through the use of threats or force. The offense is considered severe in Arizona and highly punishable with a lengthy prison time and hefty fines. It becomes even worse when a person accomplishes a robbery offense using a dangerous weapon like a firearm. In that case, you could face charges for armed robbery, listed among the most dangerous crimes in Arizona.
If you face charges for armed robbery in Phoenix, AZ, it could help to find yourself an experienced criminal defense attorney. Your attorney will study the details of your case to advise on the way forward. At Phoenix Criminal Attorney, we will guide you through the legal process, protect your rights, and plan a solid defense against your charges. We could compel the court to either reduce or dismiss your charges.
Legal Definition of Arizona Armed Robbery
The law against armed robbery in Arizona is under Arizona Revised Statutes 13-1904. You could face charges for armed robbery if you unlawfully and forcefully take something belonging to another person, accomplishing the offense with a dangerous weapon. You could also face armed robbery charges if you commit a robbery offense and execute the offense using threats to use a dangerous weapon. The use or mention of a dangerous weapon during the commission of this offense is to cause panic on the victim, forcing them to cooperate out of fear for their life.
Arizona law provides two distinct ways through which a person can commit an armed robbery:
- Committing robbery while arming yourself with a dangerous weapon or an imitation of the same
- Committing robbery while using or issuing threats to use a dangerous weapon or instrument, or simulated dangerous weapon
For instance, robbing a woman of her purse at gunpoint while she’s rushing home from work on a rainy evening. You could commit this offense while holding the gun on the woman or threatening to remove the weapon if she fails to surrender her purse. Both instances meet the requirements of an armed robbery offense.
When facing armed robbery charges in Arizona, you’ll first appear in court for trial for the jury to determine whether or not you are guilty as charged. The prosecutor must prove the two elements of this offense beyond a reasonable doubt for the court to convict you of the crime. These elements are the facts of this offense, and they include:
- That you committed an act of robbery
- You did so armed with a dangerous weapon or an imitation of a weapon or by use of threats to use a dangerous weapon against the victim or another person.
To understand the offense more, let us look at these two elements in greater detail.
Note that an armed robbery offense is a form of a robbery offense. Therefore, the prosecutor must first prove that you committed a robbery. You commit robbery in Arizona if you steal another person’s property and use force or threats. Robbery entails forcefully or with threats, taking another person’s property from their person, or immediate presence against the person’s will. Robbers use force or threats to force their victims to surrender their property or prevent them from resisting the theft.
Arizona law defines robbery using the following elements:
- That you tried and took another person’s property from their person or direct presence
- That you accomplished the act through force, threats of force, or any other form of threat
- You did so intending to make the victim afraid to surrender their property or prevent them from resisting the act.
A Dangerous/Deadly Weapon
A dangerous or deadly weapon would include any obvious lethal weapon, like a gun or knife under this statute. It is an object that could cause a severe injury or death if used against a person.
Other objects can also qualify as dangerous weapons if they could cause a person to lose their life or incur substantial harm. Examples of other dangerous weapons include:
- An unloaded firearm — A person can use it to threaten another into surrendering their possession or hitting their victim.
- Tire iron
- BB guns
- A glass bottle — A person can use a glass bottle to attack another. Additionally, a broken bottle is an extremely dangerous weapon.
- A car could qualify as a dangerous weapon if someone runs down or threatens to run down another person.
It refers to an imitation of any dangerous weapon. The imitation must be accurate enough to cause the victim to believe that it is an actual weapon. For instance, an armed robber could use one hand to create an impression of a concealed weapon, or gun, then using it to threaten his/her victims.
Note that a robbery offense is complete even if the defendant does not cause the victim to feel threatened by the weapon. You’ll still be guilty of armed robbery even if you did not cause the alleged victim to incur physical harm. The fact that you committed a robbery offense and had a dangerous weapon or an imitation of a weapon is enough to cause a conviction. Therefore, you cannot use as a defense the fact that the alleged victim did not appear threatened or did not incur any injury.
Legal Defenses to Armed Robbery Charges in Arizona
Fortunately for you, Arizona law allows you a chance to defend yourself against your charges in the presence of a jury before the judge reads his/her verdict. That is why you need to hire a competent criminal defense attorney. Your attorney will study the details of your case to find weak areas that he/she could use to compel the court to either dismiss or reduce your charges. Your attorney will also collect enough evidence to counter the prosecutor’s evidence. The other advantage is that Arizona law allows several defense strategies that your attorney can use in your favor to change the outcome of your case. Some of these strategies are:
There Was No Robbery
Your attorney could convince the court that there was no robbery in the first place. Remember that armed robbery must start with proof of a robbery offense. In the absence of robbery, you will not be guilty under Arizona Revised Statutes 13-1904.
So many strategies are available that your attorney can use to convince the court that you did not commit robbery. For instance, it could be that you merely took a property that you reasonably believed you had a right to. You could not be guilty of robbery or any other theft offense if you had a right to the property in question.
It could also be a case of mistaken identity, whereby someone else committed the offense, but you are taking the blame. A person could have mistakenly reported you to the police and not the actual perpetrator. It could be because you resemble the real perpetrator, or you were present when the robbery occurred.
If your attorney manages to convince the court that there was no robbery, the court may reduce or dismiss your charges based on other facts of the case.
There Was No Weapon
Armed robbery occurs in the presence of a dangerous weapon, a simulated weapon, or when the defendant threatens to use a dangerous weapon. In the absence of any of these elements, the offense might not satisfy all the facts of an armed robbery offense. Therefore, the court might not find you guilty under this statute.
Note that you could still face robbery charges if indeed you committed a robbery without a dangerous weapon. But the penalties for a robbery offense are lighter than those of armed robbery. If your attorney successfully convinces the court that you did not accomplish the crime using a dangerous weapon or threats to use a weapon, the court will reduce your charges.
Note that the court might require the prosecutor to prove the dangerous weapon you allegedly used to commit the offense. Thus, you could use this as a defense if you did not have a dangerous weapon in the first place.
Most robbery offenses occur at night or in dimly lit spaces. Therefore, it could be difficult for victims to identify the actual perpetrator. Sometimes victims point to the wrong person, at least one who bears similar physical features to the actual perpetrator.
If this happened to you, your attorney could cite mistaken identity to compel the court to dismiss your charges. He/she could use compelling evidence to demonstrate in court that you did not commit that offense. For instance, it could be that you were out of town on the day or time the crime occurred. Your attorney can summon witnesses to testify in your favor to convince the jury of your innocence.
Judges in Arizona have handled many cases of people who have been mistakenly identified and some wrongfully convicted of offenses they did not commit. Thus, it will not come as a surprise to the court if someone else wrongly accuses you of armed robbery while, in the real sense, you are innocent.
Illegal Search and Seizure
Arizona law guides the police on how to conduct search and seizure when investigating crimes and making arrests. Thus, you could cite illegal search and seizure if you believe that the arresting officer did not follow proper guidelines when searching your person or property or when making the arrest.
For instance, the police must obtain a search warrant to search the person or property of a person suspected of wrongdoing. It could be that the police did not have a search warrant when they raided your home, or they went beyond the provision of the search warrant they had. In that case, your attorney can compel the court to dismiss any evidence the police might have gathered during the illegal search.
If the police obtained much of the evidence the prosecutor tabled in court through an illegal search or seizure, the judge might not have sufficient evidence to convict you of armed robbery.
Again, you could cite illegal arrest to obtain the court’s sympathy and have your charges reduced. As mentioned above, Arizona law provides a clear guideline on how the police must conduct arrests and what should follow arrests. If the arresting officer violated any of these guidelines, your attorney could take advantage of that to have the court reduce your charges.
It could be that the police apprehended you without a warrant, or the officer did not read your Miranda rights. Sometimes the police start questioning a suspect without allowing the suspect a chance to call their attorney. The police must not force suspects to confess to a crime, even in the presence of compelling evidence.
Penalties for an Armed Robbery Conviction in Arizona
Armed robbery is a Class 2 felony in Arizona. Class 2 felonies are the second gravest offenses in the state. A conviction for a Class 2 felony is likely to lead to imprisonment for up to 12.5 years, or up to 35 years in prison if the offense is listed as a dangerous offense, and there are aggravating factors or the defendant has a criminal record.
You are likely to receive a minimum of three years or a maximum of 12.5 years in prison if you’re found guilty of armed robbery. Sometimes the offense is considered a dangerous crime, which calls for an even graver sentence under Arizona laws. When that happens, you could receive a maximum of 21 years in prison.
The court is likely to sentence you to a dangerous Class 2 felony offense if the following statements are factual:
- You used, discharged, or threatened to exhibit a dangerous weapon or instrument
- You knowingly inflicted a severe bodily injury upon the victim
- You committed the offense against a victim under the age of 15
Your penalties increase with the number of prior convictions you have in your criminal record. A defendant with no prior felony convictions is likely to receive a maximum of 21 years for the current armed robbery offense and/or a fine of up to $150,000. But if you have one previous historical conviction for a dangerous offense, you could receive up to 28 years of prison time. If you have two or more previous historical convictions for dangerous crimes, you could receive up to 35 years for the current armed robbery conviction.
Additionally, you’ll not be eligible for the following if convicted for a dangerous Class 2 felony:
- Suspended sentence
- Any other release from incarceration
Arizona Armed Robbery and Related Charges
Arizona laws have crimes that are closely related to Arizona armed robbery. Some of these offenses are sometimes charged with armed robbery, while the others are charged in place of armed robbery. The most common of these offenses are:
Under Arizona laws, theft is under ARS 13-1802 and is an offense where one person knowingly takes someone else’s property or service without legal authority. You could face theft charges in Arizona if you intentionally do the following:
- Using another person’s property, intending to steal it or permanently deprive the owner of it
- Taking another person’s property or services after the person had entrusted it to you and doing so without their authorization
- Obtaining goods or services from another person through fraud
- Controlling lost property without making any reasonable effort to find its valid owner
- Controlling another person’s property knowing that someone else had stolen it from its rightful owner
- Using a service without paying for it and without any consideration
The primary difference between theft and armed robbery is using a weapon to execute an armed robbery offense. Otherwise, both offenses involve illegal control of another person’s property. Additionally, robbery consists in taking a person’s property from their person or presence. Theft is a much broader offense that could take many different forms.
Both offenses are Class 2 felonies, punishable by over twelve years in prison.
ARS 13-1507 defines burglary as illegally, and without authorization, entering or remaining in or on another person’s residential structure, intending to commit theft or any other felony offense while there. You could face first or second-degree burglary, depending on the facts of your case.
1st-degree burglary is a more severe offense of the two, as it includes committing a burglary offense while in possession of a dangerous weapon, dangerous instrument, or explosive.
Both first-degree burglary and armed robbery require the use of a dangerous weapon to accomplish the offense.
Find a Competent Criminal Attorney Near Me
If you face armed robbery charges in Phoenix, AZ, it could help to work alongside an experienced criminal defense attorney. Arizona’s legal system is complex and might be challenging to navigate without proper legal guidance. Again, you need to work alongside an experienced attorney who can protect your rights, offer quality advice, and plan a solid defense against your charges. At Phoenix Criminal Attorney, our team will be with you from the start to the end. We’ll fight with you to ensure that you obtain a favorable outcome of your case. Call us at 602-551-8092, and let us study the details of your case to determine the right approach for your situation.