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NY Penal Law § 160.05: Robbery in the Third Degree

June 29, 2020 Federal Criminal Attorneys

Robbery is one of a number of theft crimes laid out in New York Penal Law. The primary detail that distinguishes the robbery offenses from petit larceny, grand larceny, embezzlement, and burglary is that robbery is carried out along with the use of physical force or a threat of violence. There are three different robbery offenses in the criminal code.  Of the three of them, robbery in the third degree is the least serious charge. This is the charge that you will face in the event that you committed a robbery, but you did not use a deadly weapon, you did not have an accomplice, you did not use a dangerous instrument, you did not steal a vehicle, and the victim did not sustain any physical injuries.  You will be prosecuted for robbery in the third degree under New York Penal Code § 160.05 if, while committing a larceny offense, you use or threaten to use physical force in order to prevent the victim from resisting or to overcome any resistance from the victim. This charge is also valid if you use physical force or the threat of physical force for the purpose of compelling the victim to turn over the property.  While robbery in the third degree is the least serious of the robbery charges, it is still a felony.

For Example

In the case of the People v. Sullivan, 070314 NYAPP4, 2014-05062 (July 3, 2014), the defendant, Mr. Darren Sullivan, was confronted by store security because they suspected that Mr. Sullivan had stashed some unpaid merchandise in a bag and was trying to leave with it. When store security personnel attempted to stop Mr. Sullivan from leaving with the merchandise, Mr. Sullivan threatened to use force and was ultimately able to leave the store with the goods. It is critical to note that if Sullivan had not used threats in order to keep the stolen merchandise in his possession and leave the store, the charge would have been a larceny, depending upon the value of the goods he took.

Offenses that are Related

Petit Larceny: New York Penal Law § 155.25

Burglary in the third degree: New York Penal Code § 140.20

Criminal possession of stolen goods in the third degree: New York Penal Code § 165.50

Possible Defenses

In order to convict you of robbery in the third degree, the prosecutor needs to demonstrate that you used force or the threat of force. Simply making an aggressive demand for property is not sufficient.  The act of breaking into a building is also not sufficient for a charge of robbery in the third degree to hold. 

In another example, in the People v. Johnson, 972 N.Y.S.2d 699 (2013), the defendant’s conviction of robbery in the third degree was successfully overturned on appeal. Although the defendant did indeed remove property from the victim’s warehouse, the defendant did not possess any weapons, and did not use force or threaten violence in the process. According to the defendant’s testimony, he put his hand in his pocket in order to find his keys so that he could flee the scene and quickly get away. There was no proof that the defendant had his hand in his pocket to lead the victim to believe that he had a gun, so the argument that there was a threat of violence or a weapon was invalidated.   

The Sentence

Since robbery in the third degree is grouped with the class D felonies, the maximum sentence you could face for this offense is 7 years in prison. Whether or not you get sent to jail and the length of time you will be ordered to spend there depends largely on your prior criminal record. If you don’t have any prior felony convictions within the previous 10 years, then it is possible for the judge to sentence no prison time at all and simply sentence you to a term of probation. On the other hand, if you do have at least one prior felony conviction within the last 10 years, the judge will have to sentence you to at least 2-4 years in prison.

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