Robbery charges are serious. A conviction for robbery in Bucks County, Pennsylvania can result in long prison sentences, and incredibly harsh financial penalties. A criminal record can lead to difficulties in obtaining employment and housing, and can even damage the way you are perceived and trusted by your own friends and family.
Being charged with crimes like theft or robbery can result in serious consequences – and that’s only considering the formal criminal consequences. Aside from penalties like fines, a prison sentence and other penalties, crimes of that contain an element of dishonesty – like theft and robbery – can cause significant damage to your reputation and standing in your community.
If you are facing allegations of robbery, it is absolutely critical that reach out to an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as you can. Prosecuting attorneys are trained to overwhelm defendants with aggressive tactics: it simply isn’t a fair fight to face the prosecution on your own. Call Young, Marr, Mallis & Associates today at (215) 701-6519 in Pennsylvania to schedule your free, confidential case evaluation.
What are the Robbery Laws in Bucks County, Pennsylvania?
The crime of robbery is defined in Chapter 37, Section 3701 of the Pennsylvania Crimes Code. Robbery is a more serious crime than theft because it requires the elements of the crime of theft plus the additional element of violence. Robbery can be charged when during the course of a theft an individual:
- Inflicts serious bodily injury to another person
- Threatens another person
- Intentionally puts the other person in fear of bodily harm
- Commits a first or second-degree felony
- Threatens to commit a first or second-degree felony
- Takes or removes another’s property by use of physical force – even slight force
- Demands, in writing or orally, that a bank, or other financial institution, employee surrender money and removes it without permission.
The offense of robbery of a motor vehicle is defined in Section 3702. It is considered a first degree felony. Theft of a motor vehicle occurs when an individual steals a car, truck or other vehicle from the lawful owner or another person lawfully possessing the vehicle.
What Happens When I Am Arrested for Robbery in Bucks County?
Below, we explain the criminal process you will face after you have been arrested for robbery in Bucks County.
Arrests for robbery may happen in one of two different ways. If you are caught by the police in the middle of a robbery, the police will likely have probable cause to arrest you on the spot. If you leave the scene of the robbery without getting caught, the police will likely conduct an investigation into who committed the crime. They will interview the alleged victim and other witnesses and review security footage. Once they believe they have enough evidence to pin the crime on you, they will ask a judge to approve an arrest warrant and, when the warrant is approved, will seek you out to place you under arrest.
If you have been arrested for robbery, your first call should be to an experienced robbery defense attorney like those at Young Marr & Associates.
After you have been arrested, your first appearance before a judge will usually occur within 6 hours. By law, it may take up to 72 hours, but a lawyer can typically get things moving quicker. This appearance is known as a preliminary arraignment. At this preliminary arraignment, the judge will read you the robbery charges against you and explain the penalties you may face.
The issue of bail will also be dealt with at the preliminary arraignment. The magistrate will consider whether or not to hold you in jail pending the resolution of your case, to release you on bail, or to release you without bail. Because robbery is a serious charge involving an act of physical violence, the magistrate may be inclined to set a high bail or even deny bail depending on what past criminal record you might have.
A skilled robbery defense lawyer like those at Young Marr & Associates will understand how to make the best case for you to be released. We know the factors the judge will take into consideration, including your ties to the community through family and employment, your flight risk, and your criminal history. We can also help guide you through the process of posting bail and retaining the services of a bail bondsman if this is necessary.
One thing that happens in the criminal process in Pennsylvania that is somewhat unique is the holding of a preliminary hearing for every case. This hearing must occur no more than 21 days after the preliminary arraignment. At the preliminary hearing, the Commonwealth’s attorney will present the evidence collected by the arresting officers to demonstrate that there is probable cause to believe you have committed the alleged robbery. The standard in this hearing is that the Commonwealth’s attorney must prove that you are more likely than not to have committed the robbery.
Your attorney will be permitted to argue your side of the matter and present a case as to why the evidence does not meet the standard of proving that you are more likely than not to have committed the robbery. If this argument is successful, the robbery charges will be dropped. If the Commonwealth’s attorney’s argument is successful, the case will proceed.
Formal Arraignment and Plea Bargaining
After the preliminary hearing has concluded, your attorney will likely begin negotiating with the Commonwealth’s attorney regarding a potential deal for you. Unfortunately, because robbery is not considered a low-level crime, you will not be eligible for pre-trial diversionary programs like ARD. However, your attorney can try to negotiate a situation where you plea to a lesser crime or where the Commonwealth recommends that the judge impose minimal punishment on you in exchange for you giving up your right to a trial.
If a deal is worked out, you can plead guilty at your formal arraignment. If not, the formal arraignment will be where you officially plead not guilty while your lawyer works to collect discovery and build your case for trial.
Since robbery is always charged as a felony, you are guaranteed the right to a trial in front of a jury of your peers. However, you can also choose to have the case decided by a judge in what is known as a bench trial. Your lawyer can help you decide which type of trial will be most beneficial in your case.
At trial, the Commonwealth’s attorney must prove all elements of the robbery charge beyond a reasonable doubt. Your attorney will have the opportunity to present evidence and call witnesses. After both sides have made their case, the jury will vote on whether to acquit or convict you. The jury vote must be unanimous in order to convict you. If the trial is a bench trial, the judge will issue a ruling finding you guilty or not guilty.
If you are convicted of robbery, the case will proceed to what is known as a sentencing hearing. At a sentencing hearing the judge will decide what penalties to impose on you for your robbery conviction. The judge has a good amount of discretion in deciding how harsh your penalties will be. A skilled robbery defense lawyer will know how to argue for more lenient penalties by showing evidence of your good conduct and reputation outside of this particular incident.
How the Crime of Robbery is Charged in Bucks County
In Pennsylvania, a charge can be “graded” as either a summary offense, a misdemeanor, or a felony. In the case of robbery, it is always a felony. However, depending on the circumstances of the robbery, it may be charged as either a first-degree, a second-degree, or a third-degree felony.
Generally, robbery will be charged as a third-degree felony. If at any point during the commission of the robbery, the defendant causes bodily injury to another person, robbery will be charged as a second-degree felony. If the defendant causes serious bodily injury or puts a person in fear of serious bodily injury during the robbery, the charge will be a first-degree felony. Furthermore, if the defendant commits robbery of a motor vehicle while another person was in lawful possession of it, the robbery will also be charged as a first-degree felony.
Penalties for a Robbery Conviction in Bucks County
Robbery can carry extremely harsh consequences in Pennsylvania. While the exact sentence will depend on the particular circumstances surrounding your arrest, all robbery convictions carry prison sentences and fines. A first degree conviction for robbery can carry a 20 year prison sentence and a fine of up to $25,000. A second degree conviction could result in a 10 year prison sentence. Finally a third degree felony conviction could result in the imposition of a 5 years sentence.
Our Bucks County Robbery Defense Attorneys Can Help
If you or someone you know has been accused of committing theft, it is simply not in your best interests to argue your own case against a trained, knowledgeable prosecuting attorney. However, you can level the playing field and give yourself the best possible chance at in-trial success by retaining the assistance of a seasoned Bucks County theft attorney to defend your case.
At Young, Marr & Associates, we can:
- Provide you with the most aggressive and results-oriented theft defense possible.
- Help you alleviate or even abolish any theft penalties.
- Deal with court fines and other issues stemming from your arrest.
If you are facing criminal charges, you have enough stress on your mind. Let our attorneys help lift your burden with our experience, knowledge, and compassion.
Our Bucks County, PA Robbery Defense Lawyers Can Help You
At Young, Marr and Associates, we bring more than three decades of criminal law experience as theft lawyers to the table. With over 10,000 criminal cases’ worth of experience, we are committed to providing all of our clients with only the highest degree of dedication and research in order to aggressively and effectively represent each and every case.
If you are facing criminal charges in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, you need to contact an experienced theft attorney immediately. Contact our law offices online to arrange for a free and confidential attorney consultation today, or call (215) 701-6519 in Pennsylvania.