What are first, second, and third degree robbery?

The difference between first, second, and third-degree robbery depends on the level of threat and violence. Third-degree robbery occurs when a criminal uses force or a weapon to take someone else's property. A person is guilty of second-degree robbery if they commit the act with an accomplice and/or cause minor injury to a victim with a deadly weapon while committing the robbery. First-degree robbery occurs when a perpetrator is armed with a dangerous weapon and the victim is seriously injured.

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Written by Jeffrey Johnson
Insurance Lawyer Jeffrey Johnson

UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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A robbery occurs when a person forcibly takes property from another person. During a robbery, the perpetrator often uses or threatens to use a firearm or other weapon. Penalties for armed robbery can include jail time of up to fifteen years and probation, and fines may also be imposed that can reach up to $20,000. Most state statutes specify degrees of robbery based on the severity of the crime. Penalties will typically vary from prison time to probation according to these degrees.

What is third-degree robbery?

Third-degree robbery occurs when a criminal uses force or an offensive weapon to take a victim’s property. Most states classify this crime as a felony of some type. In New York, third-degree robbery is considered a class D felony and may result in up to seven years of jail time for the defendant upon conviction. Other jurisdictions may not separate the types of robbery charges as specifically like New York, but will instead include sentencing enhancements that add months on the prison sentence based on factors like the perpetrator’s history and criminal record. Some of these enhancements raise the penalty if other crimes like an assault with a deadly weapon such as a firearm happened during the robbery.

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What is second-degree robbery?

A person is guilty of second-degree robbery if he commits the act with an accomplice present. Second-degree robbery may also occur if the perpetrator causes injury to an individual not involved in the crime or uses a firearm, knife, or other deadly weapons while committing the robbery. In some states, car theft is automatically considered second-degree robbery and carries a mandatory sentence.

In New York, the penalty may include up to fifteen years of jail time. In California, second-degree armed robbery can carry a penalty of two to five years in prison. The crime also counts as a strike under the state’s three-strikes law.

What is first-degree robbery?

A robbery charge is elevated to first-degree robbery when the robbery victim or someone else not involved in the crime is seriously injured. First-degree robbery may also take place if the perpetrator is armed with a dangerous weapon and threatens to use it against the victim.

In New York, this is considered a class B felony and carries a maximum sentence of twenty-five years imprisonment. California has two sets of guidelines for first-degree armed robbery. If the crime was committed with more than one person and within a home or inhabited building, the sentencing range is three to nine years in state prison. Otherwise, the range is three to six years.

Other states may not differentiate degrees of theft crimes, but rather degrees of felonies. For example, Florida uses a system based on first, second, and third-degree felonies. Aggravated robbery is considered a first-degree felony. Under Florida’s Ten/Twenty/Life laws, the penalty may be as severe as life in prison. The best way to determine the exact penalty for armed robbery in a specific U.S. state is to check the state legislature website and consult a criminal defense attorney in your jurisdiction.

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