In everyday speech, being “robbed” has become the equivalent to having something stolen from you: a bad call by an official canceling a score by your favorite team can lead you to claiming that they were robbed; bad luck or an unexpected act by someone else can rob you of an opportunity; and someone who discovers that his home has been broken into while he was away will often exclaim, “I’ve been robbed!”

In the legal sense of the term, however, robbery is only one type of theft, and needs to be distinguished from other types (such as larceny or embezzlement) in how it happens and what can happen to those who are convicted of the crime.

What are the elements of robbery?

Before we can tell the crime of robbery apart from other kinds of theft, we first need to know how the law defines larceny. In Oklahoma, a person commits larceny if he takes and “carries away” the personal property of someone else by means of fraud or stealth, with the intent of permanently depriving the owner of that property.

To convict a person of robbery in Oklahoma, the state must prove that all of the following things happened:

  1. That the accused person wrongfully (purposefully) took and carried away personal property of another, either from the personal possession of the victim or from his immediate vicinity; and
  2. Did so through the use of force on the victim, or by placing the victim in a state of fear.

Although some of the elements of each crime are the same, the main difference between larceny and robbery is that robbery is considered to be a more serious form of larceny, and that the reason for this is the use of force, violence, or the threat of force or violence against the victim.

Specific factors relating to the elements of robbery

Aside from the general definition of robbery, there are some characteristics of the crime that you should be aware of:

  • The fear of injury must be directed to the victim directly, or to someone in the victim’s immediate presence. It is not robbery to threaten others who are not there with the victim.
  • The value of the property taken makes no difference. Even if the item taken is of “trifling” value, that is not considered a mitigating factor in favor of the accused.

Are there different types of robbery?

The crime of robbery has two basic forms: first-degree, and second-degree. They are almost identical in their elements of proof: second-degree robbery involves the use of “force or fear” against the victim, while the definition of first-degree robbery is more specific about the types of force or fear being used (inflicting serious bodily injury or threatening to, or intentionally putting the victim in fear of serious injury, or committing or threatening to commit certain other types of felony-level crimes against the victim).

You can think of second-degree robbery as an included crime in the charge of first-degree robbery. Many times the prosecution will charge a criminal suspect with first-degree robbery while including second-degree robbery as a “fall-back” argument in case for some reason a first-degree conviction cannot be had.

What are the consequences of a robbery conviction?

The penalties for robbery in Oklahoma depend on the circumstances surrounding the crime. First-degree robbery is a felony, making it punishable for not less than 10 years in a state penitentiary, of which at least eight-and-a-half years must actually be served. A robbery committed by two or more people working together carries a sentence of five to 50 years; armed robbery (including with a fake gun that the victim believed was real) carries a minimum sentence of five years and a maximum of life in prison.

If you are convicted of three robbery crimes, then the sentence is a minimum of 10 years in prison with no reduction of sentence for good behavior or otherwise. This is the result of Oklahoma’s mandatory minimum sentencing act which requires those convicted of certain crimes to serve 85% of their sentence before being eligible for good time credits or early release.

Second-degree robbery carries up to 10 years in prison.

Given the seriousness of the punishment for a robbery conviction, if you are charged with this crime you will need the assistance of an experienced defense attorney who can challenge the elements of the crime as they relate to the facts, with an eye toward either having the charges dropped or reduced before trial or to secure the best possible outcome during and after trial.