What is Robbery in Arizona?

A.R.S. § 13-1902 defines the crime of robbery in Arizona. Robbery is similar to theft in that it involves one person taking the property of another. What makes robbery different, however, is that it is a theft that occurs when the property is taken by force or threats directly from the victim or when the victim is present. In other words, stealing somebody’s property when they aren’t around is considered a theft, but not a robbery. Grabbing somebody and stealing their wallet from them is a robbery.

Robbery is a class 4 felony.

A.R.S. § 13-1902 Defined

Under Arizona’s theft laws, a person commits robbery if:

  • In the course of taking any property of another from his person or immediate presence and against his will, such person threatens or uses force against any person with intent either to coerce surrender of property or to prevent resistance to such person taking or retaining property.

Important Definitions

ARS 13-1902 contains some specific legal terms that are defined in ARS 13-1901.

  • “Force” means any physical act directed against a person as a means of gaining control of property.
  • “In the court of committing” includes any of the defendant’s acts beginning with the initiation and extending through the flight from the robbery.
  • “Property of another” means property in which any person other than the defendant has an interest on which the defendant is not privileged to infringe, including property in which the defendant also has an interest, notwithstanding the fact that the other person might be precluded from civil recovery because the property was used in an unlawful transaction or was subject to forfeiture as contraband. Property in possession of the defendant is not deemed property of another person who has only a security interest in the property, even if legal title is in the creditor pursuant to a security agreement.
  • “Threat” means a verbal or physical menace of imminent physical injury to a person.

It is not necessary that force is used against the person whose property is being taken; it can be used against any person.

Penalties for Robbery

Robbery is a class 4 felony. The potential punishments for this category of crime depend on how many prior felony convictions a defendant has:

  • No priors: Probation eligible, or 1 to 3.75 years in prison
  • One felony prior: 2.25 to 7.5 years in prison
  • Two or more felony priors: 6 to 15 years in prison

Defenses to Robbery

  • Not intentional: One of the elements that the state must show to prove the crime of robbery is “intent.” Actions that are accidental or merely reckless are not enough–the defendant must have committed the act intentionally. If it can be shown that the defendant charged with robbery did not intend to use force or to take property, then that is a defense to a robbery charge.
  • Defendant had a right to the property: Another key element of a robbery charge that can be used to defend against a conviction is whether the property belonged to the defendant. To count as a robbery, the property taken by force must have been “another’s” property.

Example: A husband and a wife get into a dispute over property that they both have an interest in. Arizona is a “community property” state, so items that are part of the marital community belong to both the husband and the wife. If during the dispute a

husband grabs the something from the wife that she perceives to be hers, the husband’s community property interest in the item can be used to attack the notion that he was taking “another’s property.”

  • No force used: Robbery requires the use of some amount of force or threat of force. If a crime is charged from as a robbery because an item was taken from the victim’s person, but no force was used, then a robbery conviction may not be appropriate. For example, a pickpocketing where no force has been used should not be charged as a robbery. The same with taking an item that is nearby the victim and running off with it.

How Salwin Law Can Help You

If you’ve been charged with robbery, a skilled criminal defense attorney at the Salwin Law Group can help you with your case today. Stewart Salwin provides free consultations on criminal charges. Call today to see how we can help you get the best possible defense to your charges.

Call Salwin Law Group PLLC today at (480) 702-1789, or contact us online to make your appointment.