New York Robbery Laws

While theft is the unlawful taking of property with the intent of permanently depriving its rightful owner of that property, robbery requires the application or threat of force. This may be done with a gun or knife, but even pointing your finger through a coat pocket as if it were a gun could be construed as robbery if it causes apprehension in the victim. It is charged as a much more serious case in the event the victim or any bystanders are injured in the act.

New York Robbery Laws at a Glance

Details about New York's robbery laws, with specifics about the three main degrees of the crime, are explained in the following table.

Statute

New York Penal Code Article 160, et seq.

Statutory Definition of Robbery

Robbery is forcible stealing. A person forcibly steals property and commits robbery when, in the course of committing a larceny, he uses or threatens the immediate use of physical force upon another person for the purpose of:

  1. Preventing or overcoming resistance to the taking of the property or to the retention thereof immediately after the taking; or
  2. Compelling the owner of such property or another person to deliver up the property or to engage in other conduct which aids in the commission of the larceny.

Robbery without any additional aggravating factors is charged as robbery in the third degree.

Second Degree Robbery

A person is guilty of robbery in the second degree when he forcibly steals property and when:

  1. He is aided by another person actually present; or
  2. In the course of the commission of the crime or of immediate flight therefrom, he or another participant in the crime: (a) Causes physical injury to any person who is not a participant in the crime; or (b) Displays what appears to be a pistol, revolver, rifle, shotgun, machine gun or other firearm; or
  3. The property consists of a motor vehicle.
Third Degree Robbery

A person is guilty of robbery in the first degree when he forcibly steals property and when, in the course of the commission of the crime or of immediate flight therefrom, he or another participant in the crime:

  1. Causes serious physical injury to any person who is not a participant in the crime; or
  2. Is armed with a deadly weapon; or
  3. Uses or threatens the immediate use of a dangerous instrument; or
  4. Displays what appears to be a pistol, revolver, rifle, shotgun, machine gun or other firearm; except that in any prosecution under this subdivision, it is an affirmative defense that such pistol, revolver, rifle, shotgun, machine gun or other firearm was not a loaded weapon from which a shot, readily capable of producing death or other serious physical injury, could be discharged.
Penalties and Sentences

Third Degree: Class D felony (2 to 7 yrs. in prison)

Second Degree: Class C felony (7 to 15 yrs. in prison)

First Degree: Class B felony (10 to 25 yrs. in prison)

The court may impose a fine of up to $5,000 or double the financial gain from the robbery, whichever is higher.

Note: State laws are constantly changing through the enactment of new legislation, court rulings, and other means. Please contact a New York criminal attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Elements of a Robbery Charge

According to Section 160 of the New York Penal Code, robbery simply means "forcible stealing." To convict a person charged with robbery, the prosecution must establish three elements: (1) the defendant committed larceny and (2) used or threatened the immediate use of physical force upon another person (3) with the intent of either effectuating the taking of the property or its retention. Establishing these three elements is sufficient for a conviction of third-degree robbery, the lowest degree of the crime.

Robbery is distinguishable from the separate crime of larceny in its additional requirement of the threat of physical force upon the owner or possessor of the property. It is also distinct from larceny by extortion in that the latter offense necessitates the making of a threat of future physical injury or harm, whereas robbery involves an immediate threat of physical force.

Defenses to Robbery Charges

  • Firearm was not a loaded weapon or capable of being discharged (for first-degree robbery; defense does not preclude prosecution or conviction of lesser degrees of robbery or any other crime)
  • Duress
  • Entrapment
  • Mental disease or defect
  • Infancy (for persons less than 14 years of age)

New York Robbery Laws: Related Resources

Have a New York Lawyer Evaluate Your Robbery Case for Free

Robbery is considered a violent crime because of the requirement that there be the use or threat of violence in order to carry it out. Therefore, the penalties upon conviction always include prison time. If you have been charged with this serious crime, you may want to have a New York defense attorney evaluate your case, at no cost to you.

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

Contact a qualified attorney.