Robbery Charges

Robbery is a violent property crime that is a much more serious charge than that of simple theft or larceny. As such, both state and federal law treat it as a very serious charge. Robbery involves the physical, illegal taking or attempted taking of another party’s personal property through the threat or use of force.

Simple robbery

For the threat or use of force to be present in a robbery, at least one victim must be physically present. This is unlike theft, larceny or burglary charges where the victim does not have to be physically present at the time of the theft. Personal property is property that is on the victim’s person; it does not include real property such as buildings or land. The victim does not need to be the lawful owner of the item stolen; it is enough that he or she legally possesses it on their person. For example, the forceful taking of someone’s library book can qualify for a robbery charge, even though the victim did not technically own the book.

Robbery without the possession of a firearm or other dangerous weapon is a Class G felony.

Regardless of whether or not it is carried out with a dangerous weapon present, a robbery can occur from another person, or from a residence, place of business, banking institution or any other place where there is at least one other person present. If no innocent parties are present at the time of the theft, the crime is classified as a burglary charge as long as there is intent to steal or commit a felony.

Armed robbery

Commission of a robbery while you have a firearm or other dangerous weapon on your person, also known as armed robbery, is a Class D felony, which is a more serious charge than simple robbery. In addition, aiding and abetting a person in the commission of an armed robbery is a class D felony. Aiding and abetting can include actions such as keeping a lookout or encouraging the person to commit the robbery.

For those who have been convicted with the same crime on more than one occasion there are enhanced sentencing laws available to those convicted of one or more prior breaking and entering charges. Armed robbery charges make a person with a prior record of similar crimes subject to the Armed Habitual Felon sentencing enhancement in North Carolina.

A person facing current armed robbery charges, if they have been convicted of or pled guilty to at least one firearm-related felony offense in the past, is subject to become an “armed habitual felon.” An armed habitual felon is a status offense that is charged separately from the new armed robbery charge. Conviction of both the new armed robbery charge the armed habitual felon status offense is a Class C felony in North Carolina, with a minimum imprisonment of 120 months. This minimum sentence cannot be suspended or substituted with probation.

This enhanced punishment for repeat armed robbery is partially because after conviction of the first armed robbery, both federal and state law would have stripped away that person’s right to own a gun. If the second conviction was under state law, North Carolina law permits the person to petition for a restoration of their civil rights (which include gun ownership) after 20 years. If the second conviction was charged as a federal crime, the ban on firearm ownership is permanent unless the individual receives a presidential pardon or an administrative restoration of their civil rights, which is theoretically possible but extremely rare.


A related robbery charge is that of safecracking. If a person illegally attempts to open or opens a safe or vault, or removes a safe or vault from its premises for the purposes of ascertaining, tampering with or stealing its contents, he or she can be guilty of this Class I felony.

If you or a loved one is facing a robbery charge, it is imperative that you speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Even at the state level, robbery charges are one of the more serious property crimes with which a person can be charged and can carry heavy consequences that permanently impact a person’s life. Arnold & Smith, PLLC is a criminal defense firm in Charlotte, North Carolina. Our attorneys aggressively fight for the rights of our clients in the local state and federal courts on a variety of criminal charges, including drug charges, impaired driving (DUI/DWI), and property crimes. We also offer expungement services. Please contact us today for a consultation with one of our dedicated defense attorneys.