After drug and gun cases, robbery/armed robbery cases are one of the most common types of criminal cases in Philadelphia. A common scenario in a typical Philadelphia criminal robbery case involves the alleged robbery of a known or suspected drug dealer. A Philadelphia resident may be charged with robbing or attempting to rob another person of drugs, money, guns, etc.
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Pennsylvania Criminal Law – Elements of Robbery
Under Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes Section 3701(a), the crime of robbery is defined as follows:
(1) A person is guilty of robbery if, in the course of committing a theft, he:
(i) inflicts serious bodily injury upon another;
(ii) threatens another with or intentionally puts him in fear of immediate serious bodily injury;
(iii) commits or threatens immediately to commit any felony of the first or second degree;
(iv) inflicts bodily injury upon another or threatens another with or intentionally puts him in fear of immediate bodily injury; or
(v) physically takes or removes property from the person of another by force however slight.
(2) An act shall be deemed “in the course of committing a theft” if it occurs in an attempt to commit theft or in flight after the attempt or commission.
Robbery Criminal Statute Explained
Robbery in Pennsylvania requires two acts. First, robbery requires an unlawful taking (theft). Second, the crime of robbery requires some kind of force, threat of force/injury or actual injury. Actual injury is divided into two categories: serious bodily injury and bodily injury.
Under Section 3701(b) of Pennsylvania’s robbery law, the crime of robbery is graded as a felony of the first, second or third degree and depends on the degree of force used.
Robbery in the First Degree
Robbery in the first degree requires a theft plus one of the following 1. serious bodily injury, 2. the threat of serious bodily injury, or 3. the commission or immediate threat to commit another 1st or 2nd degree felony (i.e., robbery during the commission of a sexual assault).
Example of Robbery in the First Degree
An individual takes property (money, guns, drugs, etc.) of another person and threatens to kill the owner if the property is not turned over. This example explains Section (a)(iii). Another example of robbery involves a theft in which the owner is knocked down and falls. During the fall, the owner hits their head on the pavement and suffers a major head injury. If the head injury results in serious permanent symptoms, the individual would be charged with robbery in the first degree.
Robbery in the Second Degree
Robbery in the second degree requires a theft plus 1. bodily injury, or 2. the threat of bodily injury.
Example of Robbery in the Second Degree
An individual commits theft and in the process knocks the person down. The person falls down and breaks a finger. A simple fracture is generally considered bodily injury.
Robbery in the Third Degree
Robbery in the third degree simply requires a theft plus the physical taking from another person by any degree of force, no matter how small. Basically, robbery in the third degree is the unlawful taking of property by force; injury is not required.
Example of Robbery in the Third Degree
An individual takes the property of another and in the process, knocks the person down; no injuries occur.
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