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Per DC Code §22–2801, “whoever by force or violence, whether against resistance or by sudden or stealthy seizure or snatching or by putting in fear, shall take from the person or immediate actual possession of another anything of value, is guilty of robbery.”
The first element of the crime — “by force or violence, whether against resistance or by sudden or stealthy seizure or snatching or by putting in fear”—essentially covers the crime of assault. Despite the usual image of a brutal beating, assault does not have to involve physical contact. Threatening words or an aggressive demeanor that cause a person to fear for their safety can constitute assault, as reflected in “by putting in fear.”
The second element of the crime — “take from the person or immediate actual possession or another anything or value”—essentially covers the crime of theft.
Simply put, the crime of robbery can be thought of as “assault and theft”—two crimes combined into one larger, more serious crime when committed together. Since it is a combination of two crimes, it is also punished harder than alone. While assault or theft in DC—when committed separately—can be misdemeanor offenses depending on the circumstances, robbery is a felony offense in the District of Columbia.
A robbery conviction in Washington, DC carries a minimum sentence of 2 years in prison and a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison. You may also have to pay an additional fine of up to $37,500.
A conviction for attempted robbery in Washington, DC, carries a penalty of 3 years in prison and a fine up to $12,500.
There are several circumstances under which the law will enhance the penalty for a robbery. One such case is committing the crime while armed—in other words, committing an armed robbery.
Under DC law, “armed” means being armed or having readily available any pistol or other firearm (or imitation thereof) or other dangerous or deadly weapons. Examples of a “dangerous or deadly weapon” include different types of guns, any knife, or metallic knuckles—but the list is certainly not limited to those examples. Anything that is used or intended to be used to cause serious bodily injury or death qualifies as a “dangerous or deadly weapon.” The legal definition is broad on purpose so that people can not exploit loopholes.
For the first offense of armed robbery, the sentence for a fundamental robbery conviction can be enhanced by up to an additional 30 years in prison. However, if a person committed armed robbery with any pistol or firearm, the additional penalty would be a minimum of five years.
For a second or subsequent offense of armed robbery, the maximum additional time in prison is still 30 years, but there will be a minimum extra time of five years. If a person committed the armed robbery with any pistol or firearm, the additional penalty for a second or subsequent offense would be ten years instead.
Additionally, there will be no possibility of release or parole for armed robberies committed using any pistol or firearm before the minimum additional time is served.
Other unique penalty enhancements to robbery generally apply when the crime is committed against a specific protected class of person.
In DC, these protected classes include senior citizens (persons 65 years old or older), citizen patrol members; taxicab drivers; transit operators; and metro rail station managers. Robbery against these protected classes will multiply the maximum penalties applicable—both fines and prison time—by 1.5 times the base amount.
If the robbery is deemed a “bias-related crime,” the maximum penalty is multiplied by 1.5. In other words, a crime committed due to prejudice against a victim’s race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, marital status, personal appearance, sexual orientation, gender identity, or expression, family responsibility, homelessness, physical disability, matriculation, or political affiliation.
Carjacking in Washington, DC
The crime of carjacking is a specific form of robbery. Per DC Code §22–2803, the definition of carjacking in DC is the same as robbery in general, except the possession taken is specifically a person’s motor vehicle. Since it is a form of theft, carjacking is also a felony in DC.
As carjacking is often associated with getaways after the commission of other crimes, carjacking in DC is even more severe than that of robbery. A conviction for carjacking in DC carries a minimum of 7 years in prison and a maximum of 21 years in prison. You may also have to pay a fine of up to $75,000. In addition, as with robbery in general, carjacking has an enhanced punishment for committing the crime while armed.
A conviction for armed carjacking (or an attempt thereof) in DC carries a minimum sentence of 15 years in prison and a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison. However, any penalty of more than 30 years can only be imposed if specific aggravating circumstances are involved, such as serious bodily injury to or death of the victim. You may also have to pay a fine of up to $125,000.
There is no possibility of release or parole for a person convicted of carjacking or armed carjacking in DC until they have served the minimum sentence applicable (7 years for carjacking, 15 years for armed carjacking).
Due to the significant penalties associated with a conviction for robbery or the related offense of carjacking, it is imperative to contact an expert DC criminal defense lawyer right away if you face such charges. The lawyer will be able to help you sort out your situation in your best interest, evaluate your options for the future, and put together a vigorous defense of your case.
If you face robbery or carjacking charges in DC, do not hesitate to contact the professional, expert, aggressive DC Robbery Lawyers or DC Carjacking Lawyers at Ervin Kibria Law for a free consultation.