Taking someone else’s property with no intention of returning it is theft. Theft by itself is a serious offense, and depending on the value of the items in questions, it may constitute a felony, which means a conviction may result in significant penalties. However, if certain factors exist, a theft charge may instead become robbery.
If you are facing robbery charges, you should know that you have much at stake. Robbery is a serious crime in Maryland, and the penalties can alter the course of your life. You would be wise to learn as much as you can about the law related to your situation and find dependable legal advocacy as early as possible in the criminal process.
Robbery in a variety of situations
Robbery differs from theft because it includes the use of force. Taking someone’s cell phone from a desk drawer is quite different from forcing someone to hand the phone over. If you are charged with robbery, authorities may believe you forcibly denied someone of property by your own strength or by threats. Even if you did not touch the person, instilling fear of harm may be enough to warrant a robbery charge.
On the other hand, if authorities believe you used a weapon, you may be facing more serious felony charges of armed robbery. For an armed robbery charge, authorities must prove that you used a deadly or dangerous weapon like a knife or gun in the course of committing the crime. However, even if someone merely claims to have a weapon, an armed robbery charge may stick. This may include slipping a cashier a note claiming to have a gun in one’s pocket.
Perhaps the most severe example of robbery is carjacking. This involves taking control of a motor vehicle by threatening, intimidating or forcing the driver to relinquish it. Again, if a weapon is involved during this act, the charges and potential penalties increase in severity.
What’s at stake?
Robbery is a felony, and if a court convicts you, it is possible you will face up to 15 years in prison in addition to paying fines and restitution. If a court convicts you of armed robbery, the penalties are even more severe, including up to 20 years behind bars. Carjacking carries a maximum 30 years in prison for a conviction. With so much on the line, you will certainly want to seek out an attorney who has a history of success representing those dealing with similar charges.