The penalties for the crime of robbery are more severe than those for burglary or theft. Under North Carolina law, robbery is defined as using force or the threat of force to remove an item physically from another person’s possession with the intent of stealing the item. There are two primary types of robbery charges in North Carolina: armed robbery and common law robbery.
There are harsh penalties associated with robbery, which can include lengthy prison sentences and the consequences of being a convicted felon. If you’ve been charged with armed robbery or common law robbery, it’s crucial you discuss your case with a skilled criminal defense attorney. Attorney Joel Hancock Contact Hancock Law Firm has extensive experience representing defendants charged with serious crimes, including robbery. Contact Hancock Law Firm, PLLC to schedule a complimentary case evaluation and learn more about how we can advocate for your rights.
Robbery with a Dangerous Weapon Charge
North Carolina Statute § 14-87 defines robbery as using a firearm or other dangerous weapon while committing theft. Robbery, defined under this statute, is considered a violent theft defense. Prosecutors must prove that the defendant possessed, threatened to use, or used a firearm while taking or attempting to take personal property from another person, bank, business, or any other place. There must be a person or people in attendance during the robbery. Additionally, the prosecutor must prove that the alleged crime involved a firearm or another deadly weapon.
The prosecutor doesn’t need to prove the defendant used force against a victim. Displaying force or threatening force can also lead to robbery charges. Finally, the prosecutor needs to prove one or more people’s lives have been endangered or threatened. The language of North Carolina’s robbery law is broad. As a result, when a person is carrying a firearm during a theft, law enforcement, and prosecutors will likely try and charge the defendant with armed robbery. An armed robbery also includes aiding or abetting any person in committing an armed robbery.
Common Law Robbery
Common law robbery is tried as a class G felony which carries an active prison sentence for those convicted. North Carolina Statute § 14-87.1 defines common law robbery as a robbery that doesn’t involve a firearm or other dangerous weapon. However, if the defendant is convicted a second time, he or she will be considered a habitual felon, resulting in mandatory sentencing.
The Difference Between Robbery and Burglary in North Carolina
Robbery and burglary both involve theft, but there are several key differences between these crimes. Robbery involves theft with force or threat of force, whereas burglary does not. Instead, burglary involves unlawful entry into a structure, whereas robbery doesn’t. Robbery always involves another person or people present at the scene of the alleged robbery, whereas burglary can occur when no other people are involved in the dwelling.
The Penalties for a Robbery Conviction Are Severe
The penalties for robbery are serious in part because robbery is always considered a felony charge. The penalties for robbery can be life-altering. Those convicted can expect a prison sentence between 38 and 204 months. When the defendant has a prior criminal history or aggravated factors are involved, the court can add points to the offense that will extend the incarceration.
Common law robbery is considered a Class G felony and can carry a penalty of up to a 50-month jail sentence. A conviction for common law robbery will remain on a defendant’s record for life. Armed robbery is considered a Class D felony charge in North Carolina and carries a jail sentence of 12 or more years.
A person can still face the same penalty even if you were only convicted of aiding or abetting the crime. Specifically, helping facilitate an armed robbery or helping an individual who allegedly committed an armed robbery can result in Class D felony charges.
How to Defend Against Robbery Charges
The best legal defense strategy depends on the specific circumstances in your case. An attorney can review your case’s evidence and develop a defense strategy. If law enforcement officers violate your constitutional rights by conducting an unlawful search or seizure, your attorney can petition the court to dismiss evidence from the search or seizure.
In other cases, the prosecutor may not have enough evidence to prove the element of intent. If you didn’t intend to rob the victim, threaten the victim with a weapon, or you were not armed with a deadly weapon, or the victim wasn’t injured or harmed, you can use this defense. Prosecutors must prove the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt to convict a defendant or armed robbery in North Carolina:
- You took another person or people’s property
- You took the property away from another person
- You carried the property away
- At the time of the incident, you intended to deprive the possessor permanently
- You took the property with violence or intimidation or while in possession of a dangerous weapon
The Right to Self-Defense
If you used force to protect yourself or another person during the alleged robbery, you might be able to use self-defense as a strategy against armed robbery charges. Your attorney will need to prove you felt a threat of physical violence to yourself or another person. Other legal defenses include coercion to commit armed robbery due to threats or intimidation or being forced to commit armed robbery under threat, harm, or death.
Discuss Your Case with an Experienced North Carolina Criminal Defense Attorney
The penalties for burglary are severe. If you’ve been arrested for robbery in North Carolina, your freedom and future may be in jeopardy. Don’t hesitate to discuss your case with attorney Joel Hancock as soon as possible. He will diligently investigate your case, gather evidence in your favor, and develop an effective legal defense strategy. Contact Hancock Law Firm, PLLC to learn how we can help you protect your legal rights.