Most people don’t distinguish between criminals. For most, crime is a black and white issue. You’re a crook or you’re not. Fortunately, the legislature of Pennsylvania does make a distinction between certain crimes. The punishment must fit the crime. If the punishment does not fit the crime, a good defense lawyer will see to it that the charges are discharged. Often times, the District Attorney fails to distinguish between crimes and criminals. Instead of evaluating whether the alleged criminal committed the crime in question, they “throw the book” at the defendant, and then leave the courts to settle it out. For example, if a defendant is involved in a bar fight, the DA may charge him with Simple Assault, Aggravated Assault, Recklessly Endangering Another, and Terroristic Threats. In court, the DA may only be able to prove Simple Assault. This is why it’s so important to retain a lawyer who is going to force the State to prove every element of every crime they are charging.
The point is that distinctions matter, especially when you can go to jail for years on account of them.
“In Pennsylvania, a person is guilty of robbery if, in the course of committing a theft, he: 1.) inflicts serious bodily injury upon another; 2.) threats another with or intentionally puts him in fear of immediate serious bodily injury; 3.) commits or threatens immediately to commit any felony of the first or second degree; 4.) inflicts bodily injury upon another or threatens another with or intentionally puts him in fear of immediate bodily injury; 5.) physically takes or removes property from the person of another by force however slight; or takes or removes the money of a financial institution without the permission of the financial institution by making a demand of an employee of the financial institution orally or in writing with the intent to deprive the financial institution thereof.” PACS § 3701
In simple terms, Robbery in Pennsylvania is Theft plus use of physical force or threat to commit a felony. If someone steals your wallet while you are away from your desk it’s Theft. If someone, puts a gun to your head and threatens to shoot you if you don’t give them your wallet, it’s Robbery. Robbery is a felony of the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd degree, depending on circumstances. Theft can be graded as a misdemeanor or felony depending on the specifics of the offense.
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