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Published on 3/28/2023, 4:16:00 PM
What Makes an Armed Robbery or Robbery with a Dangerous Weapon Charge in Maryland?
In Maryland, armed robbery and robbery with a dangerous weapon are severe criminal offenses that carry significant penalties. Understanding the legal distinctions between these crimes and their respective consequences is essential for anyone facing such charges.
In this article, we will discuss the critical components of these offenses, as well as the Maryland criminal law process, including assault, theft, burden of proof, and sentencing guidelines.
If you or a loved one is facing charges for armed robbery or robbery with a dangerous weapon, contacting a Maryland robbery lawyer for a free consultation is a crucial first step in your defense.
What is Robbery?
Robbery is a specific type of violent theft crime under Maryland law that involves taking property or services from another person by using force or the threat of force. The element of force or threat distinguishes robbery from other theft offenses, such as unlawful motor vehicle taking or embezzlement. A successful robbery prosecution requires proof that the accused intentionally and knowingly used force or the threat of force to steal another's property.
Robbery is a felony with a maximum penalty of fifteen (15) years in prison.
What are the elements of Robbery?
In order to convict the defendant of robbery, the State must prove:
- that the defendant took the property from a specific person;
- that the defendant took the property by force or threat of force; and
- that the defendant intended to deprive the person of the property.
Property means anything of value.
What is an Armed Robbery, or Robbery with a Dangerous Weapon?
Armed robbery or robbery with a dangerous weapon is a more severe form of robbery that occurs when the accused is in possession of a dangerous weapon during the commission of the crime. . The presence of a dangerous weapon significantly increases the potential harm to the victim, and as a result, the penalties for armed robbery are more severe than those for unarmed robbery. Armed Robbery is a felony with a maximum penalty of twenty (20) years in prison
Maryland RDW laws are located at Md. Code, Crim. Law Section 3-403; however, a dangerous weapon is undefined, and is not limited to, firearms, knives, and blunt objects. Generally a dangerous weapon is an object that is capable of causing death or serious bodily harm, not a toy pistol or a cup of water.
What are the elements of RDW or Armed Robbery?
In order to convict the defendant of robbery with a Dangerous weapon, the State must prove all of the elements of robbery above and also must prove that the defendant committed the robbery by using a Dangerous weapon.
Firearms and Other Dangerous Weapons
In the context of armed robbery, a firearm is generally considered a deadly weapon, and its use or display during the crime can lead to enhanced penalties. However, other dangerous weapons, such as blunt objects or even a sharpened butter knife, can also lead to an armed robbery charge if used or threatened to be used in a manner that could cause harm to the victim.
Assault in Maryland
Assault is a separate criminal offense in Maryland, which involves causing or attempting to cause physical harm to another person, or placing that person in reasonable fear of imminent bodily harm. Assault comes in two degrees, assault in the second degree, and assault in the first degree.
Assault can be a lesser included offense in an armed robbery or robbery with a dangerous weapon charge, as the accused may have threatened or inflicted harm on the victim during the commission of the crime.
If no assault in any degree occurred, then no robbery occurred.
Theft in Maryland
Theft, as defined under Maryland law, encompasses various acts of stealing, including larceny, embezzlement, and receiving stolen property.
Theft crimes range in severity depending on the value of the stolen goods and the circumstances surrounding the offense.
In the context of armed robbery or robbery with a dangerous weapon, theft is a critical component of the charge, as the accused must have taken or attempted to take property or services from the victim by force or threat of force.
If no theft occurred, then no robbery occurred.
Burden of Proof
In criminal cases, the prosecution has the burden of proving the defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. This means that the state must present sufficient evidence to convince the jury or judge that the defendant committed the crime and that there is no reasonable doubt as to their guilt.
Is there a Deadly Weapon Requirement?
While the term "armed robbery" may imply the use of a deadly weapon, Maryland law does not require the weapon to be deadly for a charge of armed robbery or robbery with a dangerous weapon.
The presence of any dangerous weapon, even a non-deadly one, such as a butter knife, can lead to an armed robbery charge if used or threatened to be used in a harmful manner during the crime, and if the instrument is capable of causing serious bodily harm.
For example, a toy gun cannot support an armed robbery charge; however, a starter pistol - even if not capable of firing a roun - could be a dangerous weapon as a bluedgeon.
A variety of defenses may be available to those facing armed robbery or robbery with a dangerous weapon charges, depending on the specific facts of the case.
Common defenses include ack of intent, mistaken identity, duress, or even self-defense. An experienced Maryland criminal defense lawyer can thoroughly examine the circumstances surrounding the case and develop an appropriate strategy to challenge the prosecution's evidence or present a persuasive defense on the accused's behalf.
Jury Trial in Circuit Court
If an accused person facing armed robbery or robbery with a dangerous weapon charges decides to go to trial, the case will have to be tried in the Circuit Court.
In Maryland, defendants have the right to a jury trial for crimes that carry a potential prison sentence of more than 90 days.
A jury trial involves a panel of jurors who listen to the evidence presented by both the prosecution and the defense and determine whether the accused is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
The State must charge certain felonies, including robbery and robbery with a deadly weapon, in the Circuit Court. If a person is charged with a robbery in the District Court, then a preliminary hearing will be scheduled.
Is Armed Robbery a Crime of Violence?
Armed robbery and robbery with a dangerous weapon are considered crimes of violence under Maryland law.
A crime of violence is a specific category of offenses that receive harsher penalties as a whole and will prevent early parole eligibility.
Convictions for crimes of violence carry severe consequences, including mandatory minimum sentences and limitations on parole eligibility.
Maryland has established sentencing guidelines to assist judges in determining appropriate sentences for criminal offenses, including armed robbery and robbery with a dangerous weapon.
The guidelines consider factors such as the defendant's criminal history, the severity of the offense, and any mitigating or aggravating circumstances.
Armed robbery and robbery with a dangerous weapon charges often result in substantial prison sentences, given the serious nature of these crimes.
An experienced Maryland criminal lawyer can advocate for a fair sentence by presenting mitigating factors and arguing for a more lenient punishment based on the specific circumstances of the case.
Contact an Armed Robbery Lawyer Today
Facing armed robbery or robbery with a dangerous weapon charges in Maryland is a daunting experience, as the potential penalties can be severe and life-altering.
It is crucial to have a skilled Maryland robbery lawyer on your side to help navigate the complexities of the criminal justice system and provide a strong defense.
If you or a loved one is facing such charges, contact a Maryland criminal defense lawyer for a free consultation to discuss your case and explore your legal options. Don't wait - your freedom and future may depend on it.
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