Many people think they know what robbery means, but in the legal system, definitions often vary from the common vocabulary. For instance, a lot of us use theft and robbery interchangeably in everyday conversation.
Legally speaking, however, the two acts describe different things, and aggravated robbery is yet even more distinct.
If you find yourself in a situation where you need to know the difference between the two and what armed robbery (also referred to as aggravated robbery) looks like, you’re in the right place.
Colorado Armed Robbery in Action
To get an idea of what an armed robbery looks like, below are two examples.
In the first situation, a man was wanted for armed robbery after he held up a Subway restaurant in Colorado Springs. The unidentified man entered the store just before it was about to close for the night and demanded all of the cash in the register while pointing a gun at the clerk.
Elsewhere in Colorado, three men were arrested for armed robbery after robbing two separate locations, both at gunpoint. The suspects were allegedly armed with multiple guns when they stole cash, merchandise, wallets, and cell phones. One of the suspects faces additional charges for possessing a large capacity magazine during the commission of a crime.
Both of these examples highlight what an armed robbery might look like. However, there is a distinct difference between standard robbery and aggravated or armed robbery… and it may not be exactly what you think.
Standard Robbery in Colorado
According to Colorado law, robbery in its most basic form is theft of some kind involving the threat or use of force. The theft can include anything that is considered to be of value and occurs when that thing of value is taken from a victim while the victim is present.
For example, if you grab a person to steal the watch off of their arm, that is robbery. Likewise, if you say, “Give me your watch or I’ll punch you,” that is also robbery.
Defining Armed Robbery in Colorado
There are a few circumstances that can qualify a robbery as armed or aggravated. One qualifying factor is if the individual involved in the robbery is armed with a deadly weapon and has the intent to kill or injure someone interfering with the robbery. This is the one that most people are familiar with and would likely think of as an armed robbery. There’s more, though…
Let’s say you and a buddy rob someone. You are unarmed, but your friend has a deadly weapon. Because of this, both of you can be charged with aggravated robbery. The deadly weapon in question doesn’t even need to be used or visible during the commission of the crime.
In fact, you don’t even need to actually have a weapon to be charged with armed robbery. If you present an otherwise harmless object as a deadly weapon (like, say, pretending your hand in your pocket is a gun) or simply say you are armed with a deadly weapon (“I’ve got a knife. Don’t make me use it.”), that technically qualifies as armed robbery under the law.
Robbery in Colorado is Serious, But Aggravated Robbery Is Far Worse
Robbery is a class 4 felony in our state and can carry a sentence of up to six years in prison and/or up to $500,000 in fines. That sounds bad. No one wants to spend half a decade in prison.
However, the penalties for aggravated robbery are even more severe. It is charged as a class 3 felony, and anyone found guilty of aggravated robbery could be looking at a prison sentence of up to 12 years and/or up to $750,000 in fines.
If you are being charged with armed or aggravated robbery and believe that it is a mistake, you need to fight back. Doing so starts with understanding the law and what facts separate the two.
About the Author:
Kimberly Diego is a criminal defense attorney in Denver practicing at The Law Office of Kimberly Diego. She obtained her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and her law degree at the University of Colorado. She was named one of Super Lawyers’ “Rising Stars of 2012” and “Top 100 Trial Lawyers in Colorado” for 2012 and 2013 by The National Trial Lawyers. Both honors are limited to a small percentage of practicing attorneys in each state. She has also been recognized for her work in domestic violence cases.