There are two different laws governing robbery in the United States. The penal code of states govern robbery against persons and other entities, excluding banks. State penal codes differ in the specific definition of robbery, but the general definition would be the taking of another person's money or property through the use of force or intimation. States impose different fines and prison terms depending on the severity of the robbery. Section 2113 of the U.S. Crimes and Criminal Procedure Code govern robbery against banks and financial institutions and robbery committed against entities doing interstate commerce. Section 2113 classifies as robbery the act of extorting money or property from a bank or any banking institution that is a member of the Federal Reserve System, or any attempt to take money or property from the bank.
Section 2113 imposes a fine and imprisonment for not more than ten years if the value of the money or property taken exceeds $1,000, or a fine and imprisonment for not more than one year if the value of the money or property taken does not exceed $1,000. Section 2113 also defines and imposes fines and prison time for all felonious acts arising from or associated with the act of robbery, such as the disposal of any property or money stolen from the bank, assault into any person when committing or in attempting to commit the act of robbery, any killing of any person in committing the act of robbery or while attempting to avoid apprehension and confinement. The use of a gun or a deadly weapon while committing or attempt to commit robbery aggravates the crime, and state penal codes impose additional jail time for this crime.
In order for the prosecution to charge the crime of robbery, the following elements must be present: (1) the taking, with intent to steal, (2) the personal property of another person, (3) in the presence of the person, (4) against his will, (5) by violence or intimidation, or the threat of force. The act of robbery, in contrast to theft, must involve the use of force, violence, or intimidation. Moreover, in contrast to burglary, to be charged with robbery, there must be the presence of the victim and the victim must have been harmed.
There is a fine line between theft and robbery, and the charges will depend on how the prosecutor interprets the findings from investigation conducted by law enforcement agencies. The determination of when violence or the threat of violence was employed in the act is crucial in all robbery cases as the timing of the use of violence can change the kind of felony, thereby decreasing the accompanying fine and prison time. Moreover, the amount of violence used can also be a factor in determining what type of felony will be charged, as the act of making someone turn over a property using a slight amount of violence may be classified as theft if both parties are of equal standing (e.g. both are men and of the same size) or may be classified as robbery if the assailant is larger than the victim. Thus, when faced with robbery charges, it is crucial to employ the aid of expert robbery law attorney to argue against the prosecutor's charges.