WHY IS ARMED ROBBERY DIFFERENT?
In Maryland, robbery is defined as the taking of property or services in the possession of another individual, from his or her person or presence, by force or intimidation. Although considered a violent crime, robbery can be charged in the presence of the threat of violence, whether or not physical force was actually employed.
Armed robbery is defined as robbery with a dangerous weapon or the claim of possessing a dangerous weapon. Simply put, this means that even the empty threat of a non-existent firearm can cause robbery charges to be elevated to armed robbery. In order to convict a defendant of armed robbery, the prosecution must prove that each element in the definition of armed robbery indeed occurred:
1. Property must have been taken from another’s person or presence
Unlike simple theft, robbery requires that some item be stolen directly from a person. The theft of an unattended laptop would not qualify as robbery, but grabbing a cellphone from someone’s hands certainly would.
2. This property was carried away
Robbery involves the removal of property. At times, this can be loosely interpreted, as in the case of attempted robbery. Even if an individual takes control of property, without successfully carrying it away, robbery charges may be filed.
3. The intent of permanently depriving the possessor of this property exists
In addition to permanent deprivation, Maryland law also allows robbery charges to cover situations in which property is taken until the owner or possessor pays a certain sum. Concealment or abandonment of stolen property may also satisfy the condition of permanent deprivation.
4. This property was taken by force or intimidation
An act of theft can be considered robbery even if only the threat of violence was present (i.e., intimidation).
5. Such force or intimidation included the presence of a dangerous weapon
Definitions of a dangerous weapon may vary, depending on the particulars of a given case. Maryland law also includes the display of “a written instrument claiming that the person has possession of a dangerous weapon” under the definition of armed robbery.