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The elements required to convict a person of robbery, as well as the factors that affect a robbery sentencing, will differ among jurisdictions. As a general rule, robbery is basically a theft that is accomplished by the use, or threat of use, of force. Factors that may affect a robbery sentencing include whether a weapon was actually used or not and what weapon it was. as well as whether or not the victim was injured. In addition, the dollar value of the property taken, the defendant's criminal history, and whether or not the defendant accepted a plea agreement will affect a robbery sentencing.
Theft, in most jurisdictions, is found when a person exerts unauthorized control over the property of another person with the intent to deprive the person of the property. A theft becomes a robbery when force, or the threat of force, is used to commit the theft. The force element does not require a weapon to be used; however, use of a weapon may elevate the robbery charge to a higher level. When a weapon is used, many jurisdictions charge the crime as "armed robbery" or "robbery with a deadly weapon," which is typically a higher level crime that carries a longer possible maximum sentence.
The use of a weapon may also make the crime non-suspendable. Some crimes, and some defendants, are considered "non-suspendable," meaning the minimum sentence cannot be suspended and the defendant may not receive probation as an alternative to incarceration. The use of a weapon may also affect a robbery sentencing in that it may have caused more severe injuries to the victim. Even if the weapon was not actually used, the threat of a weapon may have a serious psychological impact on a victim, which is something a judge is likely to consider when sentencing the defendant.
In many jurisdictions, the value of the property taken in the robbery also affects the sentencing. Sometimes, property over a certain dollar amount elevates the robbery to a higher level, which, in turn, elevates the potential robbery sentence. If the defendant accepts a plea agreement, which the judge ultimately accepts, then the judge is bound by the terms of the plea agreement with regard to sentencing in most jurisdictions. On the other hand, if the defendant loses at trial, then the judge is only confined by the maximum allowable sentence under the applicable statute.
The defendant's criminal history, if he or she has one, will affect a robbery sentencing. If the defendant has a substantial criminal history, particularly a history of violence, then he or she is more likely to receive a longer sentence than a defendant with little or no criminal history. In some cases, when a defendant has a previous felony conviction, he or she may be non-suspendable and, therefore, must receive at least the minimum sentence.
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