What Is Strong Armed Robbery?

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Strong armed robbery is a specific type of larceny that is committed with a threat of force or intimidation that usually does not involve a weapon. Larceny is is the taking away of another person’s property with the intent to deprive them of the property. An example of strong arm robbery is someone robbing a bank and threatening that they have a gun. Another example is using a threat of force to get someone to hand over something of value, such as a purse or wallet.

Strong arm robbery under some state laws often does not involve a gun or knife; it can be any type of item that can be used as a weapon, such as a rock, baseball bat, hammer, etc. The weapon does not even need to be real. The fake weapon under the law is treated the same as a real one. Strong arm robbery often is charged in a case where the accused takes a note into a bank and demands money and says he has a gun. Even if he has no weapon, a threat has been made with the intent of stealing property. Some states may charge strong arm robbery instead of armed robbery when no weapon was used, but a threat was still made.

Under some state laws, strong arm robbery is defined as using the hands, arms, feet, fists or teeth to make a threat and deprive the victim of their property.

If the victim believes the weapon is real, the crime can be charged as strong armed robbery. The victim does not need to be actually holding the property when it is taken from them. However, it does need to be close enough to the victim and under their control for the alleged criminal to use violence or threat of violence to take it.

For the crime to be considered strong armed robbery, it has to include taking the property and carrying it away. This means the theft crime has been completed after the person takes the property, even if it is for a short time. Thus, if the robber took the property from the rightful owner and dropped it a few minutes later, this still may be charged as strong arm robbery.

Penalties for Strong Armed Robbery

Most states define strong armed robbery as a felony with a possible sentence of more than a year in jail or prison. In many states, various types of robbery are considered a class 4 or class 5 felony. However, strong armed robbery often involves a weapon, so it is possible the crime could be charged as a class 2 or 3 felony that can result in several years in prison. This crime also can result in more than 10 years in prison if you have a previous record.

Below are some of the specific state penalties for robbery, including strong armed robbery:


State law does not recognize strong arm robbery; it is referred to as armed robbery or aggravated robbery. To be convicted of armed robbery, the state prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed theft with a weapon and did so in such a way to make the person fear death or bodily injury. The crime can be charged as aggravated robbery when the victim was 65 or older or was mentally or physically disabled.

Robbery is a second degree felony in this state, with a possible sentence of two to 20 years in state prison and a maximum fine of $10,000. For aggravated robbery, this is a first degree felony and can get you five to 99 years in prison.

New York

Robbery in New York can be charged as first, second or third degree, depending if you use a weapon or not, and whether the victim is injured or killed. A first degree robbery conviction results in 10-25 years in prison; second degree 7-15 years in prison, and third degree 2-7 years in prison.


This state has specific laws written for strong arm robbery. It does not involve the use of a gun or other weapons under Florida law. Strong arm robbery in this state is defined as stealing property by force or threat. It is a second degree felony and can be punished by up to 15 years in prison.

Under Florida law, many types of unarmed robbery may be considered strong arm robbery. For example, it will be charged as strong arm robbery if you walk into a bank with a note and claim you have a weapon and try to steal money. No force was used, but you still made a threat with the intent to steal property.


Strong arm robbery in Pennsylvania is a second degree felony. It is defined as the person causing bodily injury or threatening to do so, rather than severe bodily injury. For instance, a robbery where the criminal demands money or will beat up the victim could be a second degree robbery charge. In this state, strong arm robbery is most often charged when there is robbery but no weapon or serious threat of violence was used.

If the criminal threw a punch that did not cause serious harm, this may be second degree robbery. But if he threw a punch, inflicted injury and threatened to kill the victim, this would be first degree robbery.

First degree robbery may be punished by up to 20 years in prison, and up to 10 years in prison for second degree.

At the federal level, bank robbery is addressed in Title 18 section 2113 of the United States Code (18 USC 2113). You face a federal sentence of up to 20 years and fine up to $250,000.

Defenses For Strong Arm Robbery

People charged with strong armed robbery have several options for their defense. Below are the most common defenses you and your defense attorney may employ.

  • Innocence: The state government has the burden of proof that you committed robbery beyond a reasonable doubt. You may be able to avoid conviction if the defense can create reasonable doubt about the evidence presented against you. For instance, you may argue that you could not have committed the robbery because you were out of state the day it occurred. You do not need to prove you are innocent; you simply need to create doubt in the mind of jurors that you were the one who did the crime.
  • Intoxication: You can argue you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the crime. This could be either voluntary or involuntary. Some states will not allow you to argue voluntary intoxication, but others will let you plead to a lesser charge.
  • Entrapment: If another person encouraged you to commit a robbery, you could argue entrapment. These defenses are challenging to prove. But if you can show that the alleged victim instigated the event just to bring charges against you, entrapment could be argued.
  • Duress: If you were threatened with death or bodily harm if you did not commit the crime, this can be an effective strong arm robbery defense.

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