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Arizona Robbery Laws and Penalties

Robbery may seem like a simple charge in Arizona, but it is crucial to understand that robbery is different and more complex than a theft charge. Yes, both charges involve the stealing of someone else’s property; however, robbery is a specific form of theft as defined by state laws. More importantly, robbery is a more serious offense in the state of Arizona and can lead to quite severe punishments for anyone charged.

Have you, or someone you may know, been charged with robbery? Are you confused as to why you may have been charged with robbery? Are you unsure of what to do after you have been charged with robbery? Phoenix Criminal Attorney can provide you with help. We have a team of highly knowledgeable attorneys and resources in order to provide you with a robbery, or any other similar, charge.

Why Am I Charged with Robbery?

Under Arizona Revised Statute (ARS) § 13.1902, robbery is defined as the taking of property from another person’s body, or within their presence, against his or her will through the use of threats and/or through the use of force as a means to prevent resistance by the victim. The use of force means that the person charged used a physical action against another person. The use of physical force or threat is a means through which you make the other individual give up their property and to prevent their resistance.

When it comes to robbery, it is more complex than just a simple theft. If you have been charged with robbery, it implies that you have used physical force, or you made a serious threat, to the other individual in the process of obtaining their personal property. Just think of the classic scenario where a robber forces a person’s purse away on the streets and runs away.

Examples:

  • Sam goes up to a stranger and asks for her purse “or else.” The stranger gives Sam the purse, then Sam runs away. This is robbery, since the use of “or else” is a threat that implies further harm.
  • Peter pushes a man down to the ground and takes his wallet and cell phone. This is considered robbery since Peter uses physical force to take the property.

Again, you may be faced with a robbery offense in the state of Arizona if you committed the following actions:

  • You take someone else’s property
  • The property in question was on their body or in their immediate presence
  • You take the property against his/her will
  • You have made a threat or used force to make the victim surrender and/or prevent their resistance

Committing these actions, you have committed what is defined as robbery in the state of Arizona. This is a serious offense and can lead to severe punishment for the defendant in a robbery case. 

Possible Penalties for Robbery

ARS § 13.1902 clearly states that robbery is a class 4 felony in the state of Arizona. As such, this offense is more serious than a misdemeanor and can lead to serious punishment. It is also important to know that the circumstances surrounding each robbery case and the defendant’s previous criminal history, if any, could potentially affect the punishments sentenced by the court.

If the defendant is convicted of robbery as a first offense, he or she may be sentence to probation with no jail time, probation with a maximum one (1) year in jail, or a maximum of one (1) year in state prison.

If the defendant has been previously been convicted of one other offense, then the maximum time served in a state prison can go up to between two and a quarter (2.25) years and seven and a half (7.5) years.

If the defendant has been previously been convicted of two other offenses, then the maximum time served in a state prison can increase to between six (6) years and fifteen (15) years.

Obviously, the greater the criminal history a defendant has at the time of being charged with a robbery offense, the greater the potential punishment of imprisonment can be in Arizona.

Again, the possible punishments if convicted of a robbery offense include:

  • First offense: probation, probation with maximum 1 year in jail, or maximum 1 year in state prison.
  • One prior conviction: between 2.25 years and 7.5 years in state prison.
  • Two or more prior convictions: between 6 years and 15 years in state prison.

In the state of Arizona, the punishments the defendant faces are determined by the court, which takes into account previous criminal history and the circumstances surrounding each case.

Related Charges and Punishments

Besides robbery crimes, you could be faced with similar but different types of robbery offenses depending on the circumstance of each case. Commonly associated charges include: theft, theft by extortion, aggravated robbery, and armed robbery.

Theft

According to ARS §13.1802, theft is the unlawful taking of another person’s property. As further defined under the statute, it is still considered theft if the property you control was lost, misdelivered, or previously stolen. This can be thought of as a simple theft offense.

Examples:

  • Jack decides to take some food from the grocery market without paying for it. This is considered theft since it is the unlawful taking of property.
  • Tom has received a package that is address to his neighbor; however, he decides to keep it. This is considered theft since he unlawfully keeps another individual’s property.

Theft is different from a robbery offense in that there is no use of force or threat in the process of obtaining the property. Theft is simply the taking of another individual’s property without their consent. As such, theft is a less serious offense than robbery (though this could change depending on the value of the stolen property.

The possible punishments a defendant could face depends on the value of the property in question.

  • Property worth $1,000 or less = class 1 misdemeanor
  • Property is worth between $1,000 and $2,000 = class 6 felony
  • Property is worth between $2,000 and $3,000 = class 5 felony
  • Property is worth between $3,000 and $4,000 = class 4 felony
  • Property is worth between $4,000 and $25,000 = class 3 felony
  • Property is worth $25,000 or more = class 2 felony

A class 1 misdemeanor is punishable by imprisonment of up to six (6) months in county jail and/or a fine of $2,500. A class 6 felony is the least severe felony and is punishable by imprisonment of one (1) to two (2) years in state prison. A class 2 felony is more severe and is punishable by two (2) to twelve-and-a-half (12.5) years within a state prison. These felony convictions are all subject to fines of up to $150,000.

Of course, the severity of crime and the defendant’s criminal history will also determine punishments set by the court.

Theft by Extortion

According to ARS § 13.1904, theft by extortion is the act of knowingly obtaining or seeking to obtain property by threating the other individual of physical harm, death, or to accuse him/her of a crime. This is a theft charge with the added element of threatening the property’s owner in order to obtain it.

Example:

  • Maria threatens to accuse Sam of a serious crime if he does not give her a valuable necklace.

If convicted as a class 1 misdemeanor, the defendant may face up to six (6) months in county jail and/or a maximum fine of $2,500. If convicted as a class 6 felony, potentially faces a minimum six (6) months to maximum one and a half (1.5) years' time in state prison. If convicted as a class 4 felony, the defendant potentially faces a minimum one-and-a-half (1.5) to three (3) years in state prison.

Aggravated Robbery

According to ARS § 13.1903, aggravated robbery is a robbery in which a person has one or more accomplices present while committing the crime.

As the criminal code clearly states, aggravated robbery is considered a class 3 felony which makes is a more serious offense than a regular robbery charge. As such, the possible penalties include: probation with up to one (1) year in county jail, or between two (2) to eight and three quarter (8.75) years in state prison. Of course, if the defendant does have an outstanding criminal history, he or she may potentially face increase time of imprisonment in state prison as determined by the court. With one prior conviction, the defendant potentially faces between three and a half (3.5) to sixteen and three quarter (16.75) years in state prison.

If you have been charged with robbery in Arizona, and it is determined that there were one or more accomplices present at the time of the crime, then the offense may be upgraded to aggravated robbery charge.

Armed Robbery

Under ARS § 13.1904, an armed robbery offense arises if the anyone who commits a robbery is armed with a dangerous weapon (or simulated weapon), or threatens to use a dangerous weapon (or simulated weapon). This form of robbery offense is the most serious due to the presence of a weapon.

As stated under the criminal code, this is a class 2 felony, or a “dangerous offense” felony in the state of Arizona. As such, the possible punishment from an armed robbery are quite severe. If a defendant is convicted of armed robbery, they could possibly face between seven (7) and twenty-one (21) years in state prison. Once again, if the defendant does have a previous history of criminal activity that includes a “dangerous” conviction, these punishments can be increased. If so, the defendant could possibly face between fourteen (14) and twenty-eight (28) years in state prison.

If you have been charged with robbery in Arizona, and it is determined that you used a dangerous weapon during the period in which the crime took place, then the offense may be upgraded to an armed robbery charge. 

What is Needed to Prove Robbery?

Again, under ARS § 13.1902, robbery is defined as the taking of property from another person’s body, or immediate presence, against their will and through the use of threats or through the use of force as a means to prevent resistance by the victim. Arizona’s criminal code explicitly outlines the key elements that need to be proven in robbery cases. These include: the taking of another individual’s property, a use of intimidation or violence, and an intention to deprive the victim of property.

Taking of Another Individual’s Property

Within this element of robbery cases, the prosecutor must prove that the accused defendant took another’s person property from their body, or immediate presence, and against their will.

First of all, it must be proven that the property that the defendant took was in fact not his or hers. In other words, the stolen property needs to been someone else’s.

Secondly, to be legally charged with robbery, the property in question must have been taken from the body of the victim or from within close vicinity of the victim. This means the defendant must have taken the property directly from the victim or from the victim while he or she was nearby.

Lastly, the property in question must have been taken from the victim against his or her will. This means the accused defendant forcefully took another person’s property. This can also mean that the victim was forced to give up the property.

If any of these elements can be disproven, you be faced with a robbery offense in the state of Arizona.

Use of Intimidation or Violence

Another very important element that needs to be proven in robbery case is the use of force or threat against the victim. The prosecutor must prove that the defendant used physically violence or threatened to use violence while taking the property away. This can include any physical force, use of threatening language, or combination of both.

If this element cannot be proven, then you cannot be charged with robbery in the state of Arizona.

Intent to Deprive

Lastly, the prosecutor must prove that the defendant intended to deprive the victim of their property when they took it. This means that the defendant must have purposely took another person’s property in order to gain control over it and to purposely deprive its owner.

Once again, if this element cannot be proven in court, then you can’t legally be charged with robber under Arizona law.

Are There Defenses for Robbery Cases?

As with any other type of criminal offense, there are defenses that may potentially be used in order to drop charges. With a robbery offense, common defense that a good attorney could use include: the property was yours, you were wrongfully accused or wrongly identified, you did not use force, or you did not intend to deprive the owner of the property.

Property was Yours

If you believed that the property you took was yours, then may not legally be charged. Of course, with this defense, you must prove how and why you believed the property was yours. If this is the case, you are not actually taken property from another person’s possession.

Wrongfully Accused

Sometimes, you may be wrongfully accused of robbery, especially since a robbery can happen quickly and the victim did not quite see who took his/her property. Also, sometimes a heated argument or disagreement may lead to someone you know accusing you of robbery—even if you did not actually rob them of anything.

If this is the case, then you did not actually commit the crime and you may not be legally charged with a robbery.

No Use of Force

Another defense that can be used is that you did not actually use force or make a threat. The use of force and/or threat is a key element in robbery cases and must be proven. If there is no actually evidence to suggest that you used physical force or that you made a threat, then you may not be legally charged with a robbery offense.

If you still took someone else’s property, but without the use of force, you may still be faced with a theft offense which is a lighter offense in Arizona.

No Intent to Deprive

Lastly, if you did not intend to deprive the victim of their property, you may not be charged with robbery. This can indicate that you did not purposely seek to take another person’s property, or you did so by accident. Also, this could mean that you did not plan to take the property in advance.

If this is true for you, then you may potentially not be charged with robbery.

Where to Find a Criminal Attorney Near Me

Are you currently facing a robbery offense in the state of Arizona? We are here and ready to assist you. Phoenix Criminal Attorney aims to provide top-quality legal assistance with our team of professional attorneys and staff members. If you find yourself facing a robbery charge, do not wait to contact our Phoenix Criminal Lawyer at 602-551-8092 so we can review your case. With our help, we can make sure that you find the best defense to use against a robbery offense, or any other similar type of offense.

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