Virginia Robbery Laws

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Virginia Robbery Laws

Robbery is a very serious offense in the Commonwealth of Virginia; it is not the same as a burglary. Many people confuse these two offenses. To learn about burglary, or if you or a loved one faces a Virginia burglary charge, see what our local Fairfax and Virginia Burglary attorney explains about this particular offense here (along with other crimes against habitation, like Virginia trespassing laws).

Robbery is a crime against a person, and although many robbery cases involve taking something, the reason the law punishes those found guilty of robbery in Virginia is because robbery involves using force or a threat of force. Consider this: petit larceny is a misdemeanor, not a felony. It involves taking goods or something of value. But larceny cases often involve shoplifting, or taking something from a person when they are not around. Robbery on the other hand is a serious felony.[/vc_column_text][vc_toggle title=”Where can I learn more about Virginia Robbery laws, updates, and attorneys?” open=”false”]To find out about robbery laws in Virginia, penalties, and case outcomes, continue to read this page by our Virginia criminal lawyer or join our newsletter (see the right-hand side of the page). We also invite you to connect socially: Like our Facebook page, or follow us on Twitter.[/vc_toggle][vc_column_text]

Virginia Robbery Lawyer and Legal Information

A Virginia robbery charge is considered an aggravated, or much more serious form of larceny. It is an offense against a person, with the basic elements as follows:

  • taking property
  • intent to steal
  • form his/her person or in his/her presence
  • against that person’s will
  • using violence or intimidation.

Virginia Code 18.2-58 states:

[If a person is found guilty of committing a robbery]…and used:

  • partial strangulation or suffocation
  • striking or beating
  • other violence
  • assault
  • putting a person in fear of serious bodily harm
  • the threat or presenting of firearms or other deadly weapon or instrumentality…

…[it is punishable as a felony and the convicted will receive a sentence of five years to life.]

Virginia Robbery Defenses, Rules, and Cases

Words or Conduct Considered Intimidation?

If a robbery charge is brought against a person based on the allegation he or she used a threat of force, the court should try to determine whether or not the fear was actually a result of the defendant’s words or conduct. If the alleged victim is extremely timid, it should not count against the defendant. At the same time, no law requires that the level of fear be judged by an objective person’s reasonable standard.2

What does this all mean, in the context of a possible defense? If a person is accused and charged with using threats to take something, the Virginia criminal defense attorney handling the case may want to ask questions related to the words and conduct, arguing that they were not intend to cause fear (and perhaps were unrelated to the reason why the alleged victim gave the defendant the property).

To receive a monthly email with justice system tips, news, and a great way to stay in touch with our Fairfax criminal lawyer (who founded the firm that serves all counties and cities in Northern Virginia), join the Vincenzes Law Lion’s Den newsletter today!

Property Requirement for VA Robbery Crime

The prosecution does not need to show that the property was indeed owned by the alleged victim. The reason is, robbery is a crime against the person as we have mentioned already. The point is that the Commonwealth’s Attorney (the prosecutor) does have to prove that the  alleged victim had some possessory right and that whatever that right to possess the property might have been, it was a right greater than the defendant’s right.3

Virginia Robbery Lawyer and Defense Attorney Lists Similar Offenses

Other serious crimes related to, or similar to robbery in Virginia are: extortion, fraud, larceny, burglary, and homicide.

Extortion Laws in Virginia Explained Elsewhere…

Extortion involves threats to injure a person’s character, or their property (or their own body). For example, it might be extortion to threaten to hurt someone’s good reputation in exchange for money. Or, making an accusation against someone in an attempt to gain some pecuniary benefit.4

Virginia Carjacking Lawyer

Carjacking is so serious that Virginia punishes a person who meets the definition quoted below, with a sentence of fifteen years to life in confinement.5 All felonies are not created equally, but if charged, a Virginia felony lawyer should be consulted immediately.

[In Virginia, the term, “carjacking,”] means the intentional seizure or seizure of control of a motor vehicle of another with intent to permanently or temporarily deprive another in possession or control of the vehicle of that possession or control by means of partial strangulation, or suffocation, or by striking or beating, or by other violence to the person, or by assault or otherwise putting a person in fear of serious bodily harm, or by the threat or presenting of firearms, or other deadly weapon or instrumentality whatsoever.

Threats to Kill or Seriously Harm:
Explained by Local Fairfax Criminal Lawyer
and Northern Virginia Defense Attorney

With the rise in school violence in recent decades, and with the general unease of the violence that is reported by news stations across the country each day, our legal and justice system does not take likely to any threats or notes (online or on paper) if it involves a threat to kill or serious harm someone. It may be enough to charge someone with extortion. Depending upon the circumstances, this crime might be a Class 5 or Class 6 felony.[/vc_column_text][vc_toggle title=”How Can I Get a Discount from a Defense Attorney?” open=”false”]To receive a monthly email with justice system tips, news, discounts and a great way to stay in touch with our Fairfax criminal lawyer (who founded the firm that serves all counties and cities in Northern Virginia), join the Vincenzes Law Lion’s Den newsletter today![/vc_toggle][vc_toggle title=”What if I don’t know any Virginia criminal lawyers?” open=”false”]You should consider joining the Vincenzes Law monthly newsletter[/vc_toggle][vc_toggle title=”What to do if Charged with a Serious Felony like Robbery?” open=”false”]Although we strongly believe any crime should result in the accused making contact with a local Virginia criminal defense attorney, there are some people who truly do not care about their records. They only care about jail time…or maybe, they incorrectly think lawyers are not really necessary to fight a misdemeanor offense. In any event, we could not disagree more. When a felony is involved, however, the accused should call a Virginia defense attorney right away. The first priority will be to get the individual out of jail, if possible. This may involve finding a bail bonding company. As a member of the Northern Virginia community, Brenton D. Vincenzes has much experience representing clients and getting to know various bail bondsmen. We can help arrange a time for a bail bonding company that we know to be a trustworthy business to meet you.

Then, the lawyer will explain the cases legal consequences if the loved one is convicted. After listening to the case facts and interviewing the accused, our Fairfax criminal lawyer and Northern Virginia serving law firm explains

  • any possible defenses,
  • initial thoughts as to strategy,
  • an assessment of weak points and strong points.

Since so much is possibly on the line…the ability to remain a free man or woman… it could be expensive to hire an attorney. The good news is, many Virginia criminal lawyers will listen to the facts of your case for free, and offer a flat-fee quotation. This way, it is easy to determine the overall cost of representation, while also understanding what a lawyer will be able to possibly do for you or your family member. Our online case evaluation form is available around the clock, and during business hours, we can be reached at: 888.695.6565, or 703.665.3719.[/vc_toggle][vc_column_text]

References Cited on Page by Virginia Robbery Lawyer and Fairfax Criminal Defense Attorney

[1] 18.2-58

[2] Harris v. Commonwealth, 3 Va. App. 519 (1986).

[3] Hairston v. Commonwealth, 2 Va. App. 211 (1986).

[4] § 18.2-59. Extortion of money, property or pecuniary benefit.

[5] § 18.2-58.1. Carjacking; penalty.


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Brenton D. Vincenzes is a lifelong Fairfax County resident and Fairfax Criminal Defense Lawyer. He is a member of the Virginia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, National College of DUI Defense, NORML, and has been awarded the following in 2014-15: Top 100 Trial Lawyer (National Trial Lawyers) Top 40 Under 40 Trial Lawyer (National Trial Lawyers) Nationally Ranked Top 10 Under 40 Defense Attorney (National Academy of Criminal Defense Attorneys) 10 Best in Client Satisfaction for Criminal Defense (American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys) Nationally Ranked Top 1% Attorney Award Recipient (National Association of Distinguished Counsel) As a local leader, Mr. Vincenzes mentors troubled youths, volunteers his time to serve at his church, takes select pro bono clients, and strives to improve the community. Mr. Vincenzes represents men, women, and juveniles through zealous and diligent advocacy, strategic planning, and skilled trial work preparation. Mr. Vincenzes' areas of criminal law practice are broad, and include most felonies and misdemeanors such as: reckless driving, DUI & DWI, drug offenses, assault and battery, domestic violence, assault on an officer, destruction of property, alcohol offenses, firearm offenses, larceny, shoplifting, embezzlement, fraud, and other theft offenses, and moving traffic violations among others. His private legal services are available in most Northern Virginia jurisdictions, including Fairfax County, Arlington County, Prince William County, Loudoun County, Stafford County, Alexandria, Manassas, Leesburg, South Riding, and other cities and towns.

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