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Robbery Law in Alabama

Robbery in Alabama 

Alabama defines robbery as using force against a person intending to overcome his physical resistance or physical power of resistance during a theft or threatening the imminent use of force against a person intending to compel acquiescence to the taking of or escaping with stolen property.  Alabama Code § 13A-8-43.

For example, if a shoplifter is caught and then pushes past a security guard to escape, the person can now be charged with robbery.

Without any additional aggravating factors, this is called robbery in the third degree, which is a Class C felony punishable by:

  • Over a year, and up to ten years, in prison
  • Up to $15,000 in fines (or double the amount gained or lost in the robbery)

If the robber is aided by another person present at the scene, this is called robbery in the second degree. Alabama Code § 13A-8-42, which is a Class B felony punishable by:

  • 2-20 years in prison
  • Up to $30,000 in fines

If the robber causes serious physical injury during the robbery or is armed or claims to be armed with a deadly weapon, dangerous instrument, or item that would lead a reasonable person to believe the robber is armed (such as a fake gun or knife), this called robbery in the first degree as defined by Alabama Code § 13A-8-41. 

For example, if a person hands a bank teller a note demanding money and claiming to be armed, this is defined as robbery in the first degree, regardless of whether the person actually has a weapon.  Robbery in the first degree is a Class A felony punishable by:

  • Ten years to life in prison
  • Mandatory minimum of 20 years in prison if a gun or other deadly weapon is used
  • Up to $60,000 in fines

As with all felonies in Alabama, mandatory minimum sentences increase if you have a prior felony record.

In all cases, it is not necessary to actually successfully steal the property to be convicted of robbery; the prosecution only has to prove that you attempted to steal the property.  If a person fights off an attempted robbery and the attempted robber flees without obtaining any property, this can still lead to a conviction for robbery under Alabama law.

Defenses to Robbery Charges in Alabama

Depending on the circumstances of the incident, it may be possible to get your charges reduced to a less serious crime.  For example, one element of a robbery charge is the intention to steal property.  If you get in a fight with someone, and that person flees and leaves behind an item of property, this is not robbery if you did not intend to take the property from the other person.  If you take property that you honestly believe to be yours, even if you use force, you should be able to get your charges reduced or dismissed.

Not all thefts are robberies.  If there was no use of force or threats to do so, your charges should be reduced to a lesser charge. 

As with all crimes, you may be wrongfully accused of something you did not do, mistakenly arrested by police for a crime committed by another person, or your charges may be based on illegally collected evidence.  This can especially be the case in old robbery cases, as there is no statute of limitations to limit the time period in which charges must be brought for crimes involving the use of force or threats, such as robbery in Alabama. 

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