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DC Robbery


District of Columbia Code § 22-2801 defines robbery as “by force or violence, whether against resistance or by sudden or stealthy seizure or snatching, or by putting in fear, shall take from the person or immediate actual possession of another anything of value.” This definition is heavy on the legal jargon, it is easier to understand if we break it down. To be convicted of robbery, the government needs to prove that your actions meet three elements of the crime; you used force, to take something of value, from a person directly or from their possession.

A criminal conviction can severely impact your life outside of judicial punishments. It is important to have the best criminal defense attorney possible to protect your rights. The attorneys at Scrofano Law have decades of combined experience successfully defending the people of DC. If you have been arrested and charged with robbery, make sure you contact Scrofano Law immediately so an attorney can start crafting the best defense possible for you situation.


What actions satisfy the elements of robbery?


Use of Force

This part of the statute is written to cover a bunch of different actions in order to make sure it covers any action that was used to force someone to give up their belongings. “Use of force” most obviously means forcefully taken something from a victim’s belongings; for example, ripping a phone out of someone’s hand on the metro.

However, “use of force” can mean threatening someone with a weapon, or even just threatening someone with words. A good prosecutor can even successfully argue that a person’s threatening demeanor exemplifies use of force. The “use of force” element is the element most susceptible to good arguments from a prosecutor and a criminal defense attorney. Without “use of force” a robbery charge falls to a theft charge, a much less severe crime in DC.

Taking Something of Value

This element is straightforward, it is satisfied if you take something from someone. The term value does not mean that the item has to actually valuable. Taking a coffee from someone satisfies the “value” element just as much as taking a diamond necklace.

Directly from the Person, or Person’s Possession

This element is also rather straightforward. If you take something directly from their hands or from nearby them, this element is satisfied. For example, taking a coffee the table a person is sitting at is just as much a robbery as taking the coffee from their hands.

What is the punishment for robbery? What is the punishment for armed robbery?

Robbery is a felony in DC. If convicted of robbery, there is a minimum mandatory sentence of 2 years, but the judge can sentence you to up to 15 years in prison. In addition, you could be subject to a heavy fine.

In DC, committing armed robbery (also known as aggravated robbery) can seriously increase your potential punishment. Armed robbery means you used a weapon to aide your robbery; DC does not limit the definition of weapon to just a firearm or knife, any item that could be used as a weapon could potentially enhance your robbery charge to an armed robbery charge. If you are convicted of armed robbery, you could face up to 30 years in prison. If you have a prior criminal record, the mandatory minimum could also be raised to 5 years in prison.

Is it still robbery if I was not able to actually take the person’s item?

If you made an attempt to rob someone and failed in the actual “robbery” part, you can still be charged with attempted robbery under DC Code § 22-2802. To prove you committed attempted robbery, the government must prove that, by an “overt act,” you attempted to commit a robbery. For example, threatening a person with a knife to hand over their phone is an “overt act.” If you don’t actually get the purse, you could still be convicted of attempted robbery.

If you are convicted of attempted robbery, you could face up to 3 years in prison and a fine of up to $12,500.

Carjacking laws in DC, is stealing a car not robbery?

In the 1990s, DC created § 22-2803, a separate statute from robbery that specifically targets carjacking offenses. Carjacking is a crime that is taken extremely seriously in DC. The elements of carjacking are more or less the same as the elements for robbery; however, the statute calls for much harsher penalties. If you are convicted of carjacking, you face a mandatory minimum of 7 years in prison and a judge can sentence you up to 21 years in prison. If you are convicted of armed carjacking, you face a mandatory minimum of 15 years in prison and, depending on the circumstances, the judge could sentence you up to 40 years in prison.


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