What is robbery?

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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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UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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Robbery is taking or attempting to take something of value from another by violence or the threat of violence. Robbery can be committed against individuals, businesses, and institutions like banks. It is a felony in all states. Threatening people on the streets with a baseball bat and demanding all their money and jewelry is robbery, even if the person is not injured. Pushing an elderly woman down on the sidewalk to steal her purse is also robbery. Using the same baseball bat to demand money from the till of the local 7-11 is another form of robbery.

Armed robbery involves the use of a weapon, while aggravated robbery involves the use of a deadly weapon or what appears to be a deadly weapon. If someone robs a store with a toy pistol, that will still be aggravated robbery, because the weapon appeared to be deadly. It is also aggravated robbery in some states to cause or threaten serious bodily injury or death during the commission of the robbery. For example, if the assailant describes how he intends to bash in the skull of the victim with the baseball bat, this might be aggravated robbery.

Sometimes there is a fine line between theft and robbery. If a thief snatches up a woman’s purse from a restaurant table, that is merely theft. There is no force used against her, nor the threat of force. It might even be mere theft if he slips it off her arm before she even realizes it, but if she resists even a tiny bit, it is robbery.

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