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Under the law robbery is generally described as taking another’s tangible personal property with the use of force or threat of force or intimidation.


Robbery exist where there is; (1) trespassory taking and carrying away, (2) of tangible personal property of value,  (3) from another who has superior possessory interest in the property,  (4) with the intent to permanently deprive him of it, (5) by violence or intimidation. The first four elements describe the crime of larceny, which is a lesser included offense of robbery. Larceny from a person by violence, threat of violence or intimidation is common law robbery.


The most important factors of robbery are that the taking has to be from the person in possession and it has to be wrongful (trespassory). Possession means the legal right to control an object physically for a reasonably long time. “Title” and “possession” are two distinct states of ownership. An owner who has title does not have possession for purposes of robbery if the property is leased for example.


In order to constitute robbery the taking has to be by either violence or intimidation. Violence includes any kind of struggle for the object or battery of the victim. If the taking occurs by intimidation then the intimidation has to be such that it creates an apprehension of danger in the victim so that he hands over his property as a result. These intimidation tactics can involve force by words, intimidating gestures, or other actions. The force of these gestures or words has to be such as to establish a threat of immediate harm if the victim does not hand over his property, such as holding the victim at gunpoint.


The law of robbery is governed by the individual states. Depending on whether a weapon of any kind is used during the robbery states distinguish robbery, armed robbery and aggravated robbery. Armed robbery and aggravated robbery both refer to robbery committed with the use of some sort of a weapon with the only difference that in order to be charged with aggravated robbery the use of a deadly weapon is necessary in carrying out the robbery such as a knife or a gun.


The severity of punishment depends on the type of robbery committed (aggravated robbery carries the most severe sentence) and is determined by the individual states. It is important to note however that all three types of robbery are considered a felony in every state. Some states only recognize robbery and aggravated robbery or might use a different term for aggravated robbery.


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