People often confuse Robbery with other crimes such as Burglary and Theft. In society, the word "robbed" is commonly misused. At common law, Robbery required two elements: 1) the occurence of a theft; and 2) the use of force or threat of force in committing the theft. The key to understanding the crime of Robbery is the force element. The quintessential example to illustrate the distinction between Robbery and theft is that of the ordinary pick pocket. Let's say a pick pocket follows you down State Street in Media, Pennsylvania. He walks behind you and grabs your wallet from your back pocket. By the time you turn around, the pick pocket is running away with your wallet. You are not able to catch him. In this scenario, the taking of the wallet would constitute a petty theft, or in Pennsylvania the crime of Theft by Unawful Taking. Now, let's change the fact pattern and let's say that you catch the pickpocket taking your wallet. Once you catch him you offer resistance and start wrestling with him in the middle of the sidewalk. Unfortunately, the pick pocket gets the best of you and is able to take the wallet. Once he gets the wallet he pushes you away and runs over to Baltimore Pike. This petty theft crime then becomes a robbery. Whenever any force, however slight, is used in a theft, the theft becomes a robbery.
In Pennsylvania, the elements of Robbery are similar to the common law definition. The Robbery statute can be found in the Pennsylvania Crimes Code at 18 Pa.C.S. Sec. 3701. If you are charged with Robbery in Pennsylvania I recommend that you read the Robbery statute thoroughly.
Please note that in Pennsylvania the seriousness of the Robbery is based upon whether "bodily injury" or "serious bodily injury" occurs or is threatened to the victim. The definitions of "bodily injury" and "serious bodily injury" can be found at 18 Pa.C.S. Sec. 2301. If you allegedly inflict or threaten to inflict "bodily injury" to the victim, your Robbery will be graded as a felony of the second degree rather than a felony of the first degree.
If you or one you love has been charged with Robbery, it is time to contact an attorney that is prepared to take your case to trial. A Robbery conviction will affect the rest of your life. Contact Jason R. Antoine Attorney at Law for a free consultation.