Robbery in the Third Degree
Robbery is forcible stealing.
What is Robbery in the Third Degree?
There are two components of robbery in the third degree: theft and force. The use or the threat of force is what separates robbery from New York’s various larceny charges. Force is understood broadly and need not include the use of a gun or any other deadly weapon. Rather, it can include threatening violence against a person, even if the perpetrator doesn’t actually possess a weapon, or striking a person with your hands. If a person takes someone else’s property by force or the threat of force, that person has committed robbery. For more information, our article on Burglary and Robbery charges in New York state provides a broad overview on the range of offenses.
When Is a Person Charged with Robbery in the Third Degree?
The most common forms of robbery in the third degree are robberies from people on the street, such as snatching someone’s purse or demanding a person’s wallet. But simply stealing something is not sufficient to constitute robbery; force must also be used or threatened. New York courts understand the threat of force very broadly to include both verbal and non-verbal threats. For instance, if someone approaches a person on the street and demands their wallet, robbery in the third degree is applicable only if the individual reasonably believed that the thief was likely to use force to take the wallet.
A threat of force can be made with a weapon, but need not be to constitute a threat. For instance, a person who steals someone’s property by pretending to have a gun in his pocket has committed robbery, even if he does not actually have a gun. Similarly, New York courts have held that a bank thief has threatened force by declaring, “Do what I say and nothing will happen“—the reasonable inference being that not following the robber’s instructions will lead to an unpleasant outcome.
NY PENAL § 160.05 Robbery in the Third Degree
The New York State penal code defines robbery in the third degree as follows:
A person is guilty of robbery in the third degree when he forcibly steals property. Robbery in the third degree is a class D felony.
What Can Happen if I Am Charged with Robbery in the Third Degree?
Although robbery in the third degree is the lowest level of robbery charges, it is a felony and if you are charged with it, you should take the charge seriously. As a class D felony, a conviction of robbery in the third degree does not have a mandatory prison sentence for people without prior felony convictions. The court can instead sentence a defendant to probation. However, a prison sentence is mandatory if you have been convicted of a felony within the past 10 years, even if that conviction was in a different state. Even if this is your first felony offense, you can still be sentenced to as much as 7 years in prison. Regardless of your criminal history and background, you need an experienced criminal lawyer to explain the legal process and the possible outcomes of your case, and to represent you vigorously in court.
What Should I Do Next?
If you are charged with robbery in the third degree, you need an experienced lawyer who can be your advocate throughout the legal process. You will be arrested and arraigned in the county where you are charged. Don’t make any statements to police or anyone else about the alleged crime. Let your lawyer speak on your behalf. He knows the law and can help you achieve a favorable outcome of your case