Robbery- For Crime Fiction Writers

Robbery is one of the most confusing & misunderstood criminal offenses:

Robbery is often confused with the somewhat similar criminal offense: Burglary

Before I explain the difference, I should tell you the elements of the criminal offense, robbery.
{Keep in mind that criminal elements and definitions, vary from state to state.}

Simple Robbery: 
(1) The taking of anything of value
(2) Belonging to another
(3) From the person of another
(4) Or that is in the immediate control of the other
(5) By use of force or intimidation {but, not armed with a dangerous weapon.}




The crime is enhanced to Second Degree Robbery, when the offender inflicts serious bodily injury. It is further enhanced to First Degree Robbery, when the offender leads the victim to reasonably believe he is armed with a dangerous weapon; and the offense is enhanced to an Armed Robbery, when the offender, in fact, has a dangerous weapon.

There is one additional enhancement, which is actually an additional criminal offense: When the dangerous weapon used in the commission of an armed robbery is a firearm, the offender shall be imprisoned at hard labor for an additional five years (the five years is not subject to probation, parole of suspension of sentence} & shall be served consecutively to the sentence imposed for the armed robbery.

Simple robbery carries up to seven years, with or without hard labor and the penalty for each enhanced robbery carries a stiffer penalty, up to Armed Robbery which is punishable by imprisonment, at hard labor, without the benefit of probation, parole, or suspension of sentence, for not less than ten years, nor more than ninety-nine years.

Without going into too much detail of each and every element of a burglary, here are the main distinctions between robbery and burglary:

A robbery requires the taking of something of value from another. A burglary is the unauthorized entering of a dwelling, car, boat or other structure, with the intent to commit a theft or felony, therein.

Do you recognize any of the important distinctions?

Unlawfully entering another person's home, car, or boat: Burglary, but not robbery.

Breaking into someones home with the intent to steal money: Burglary, but not robbery

Unlawfully entering someones home {without their permission}, but not breaking a window or lock, entering through an unlocked door, with the intent to rape the home's occupant: Burglary, not robbery.

It doesn't matter that the door is unlocked, it is an unlawful entry. The intent to commit a rape is the intent to commit a felony, therefore, a burglary. For a burglary to occur, it is irrelevant that the offender does not actually commit the theft or felony therein; the only requirement is the intent to commit a theft or felony, therein.


Robbery requires the actual taking of something of value, from another, belonging to another. So a man approaches a woman in a shopping mall parking lot, unarmed and demands that she give him her watch and shopping bags (I intentionally did not say purse, because purse snatching is a separate and distinct crime).The woman is frightened by the man and his size and obvious ability to harm her so she hands it over. This is a robbery.

The man knocks her to to the ground and stomps on her, leaving her unconscious~ this is a second degree robbery. 

The man has his hand inside of his sweatshirt-hoodie and is pointing something at her though his clothing, but the woman is unable to determine what it is. It could be a gun or could be his cell phone or merely his finger. So long as the victim is led to reasonably believe that the man is armed, it doesn't matter if he is actually armed. This is First degree robbery.

But...

 If the man actually has a weapon, it is an armed robbery. 

Robbery requires, actual taking, so an unsuccessful attempt to take is an attempted robbery.

Today's Crime Fiction Play Along:


(1) Zoe needs to use the bathroom & she is locked out of her house. She's been drinking beer all day and is about to pee in her pants. She notices that her neighbor's door is unlocked, so she enters and relieves herself, while setting off the silent alarm. The police arrive and arrest Zoe. What crime is Zoe guilty of?

(a) Burglary
(b) Robbery
(c) All of the above
(d) None of the above

(2) Zach approaches a woman as she is getting into her car in a parking garage. Zach demands her money and tells her he will rape and kill her if she does not give it to him. He snatches her necklace from her neck and runs away. What crime has Zach committed?

(a) Armed Robbery
(b) Burglary
(c) Simple robbery
(d) First Degree Robbery

(3) Same fact pattern as above, except, in this scenario, Zach tell the woman that he is armed with a knife.

(a) Armed Robbery
(b) Simple Robbery
(c) First Degree Robbery
(d) Second Degree Robbery

(4) Zoe knocks her ex-boyfriend to the ground and takes the iPhone that he has in his pocket. Zoe is arrested, but the police learn the she is actually the true and rightful owner of the iPhone. What crime is Zoe guilty of?


(a) Armed Robbery
(b) Simple Robbery
(c) First Degree Robbery
(d) None of the above

Play along! Winner receives a $25 Amazon Gift Card.

How many blogs have you visited so far, in the 2013 A to Z Blogging Challenge?





3 comments:

  1. So it's not a robbery unless something is taken?
    I like the idea of hard labor!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I hope I'm playing right--my answers are a, c, c, d. I've been enjoying these lessons. I'm finding them helpful in my attempt at writing some crime fiction. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I love your examples, they make it much easier to learn. Of course, now that I said that I hope I answered them right: a, c, c, d?


    (If I'm the winner, please donate the $25 to your local food bank.)

    ReplyDelete

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