Arizona’s Armed Robbery Laws


Armed robbery charges come with serious penalties. In Arizona, armed robbery is taking someone’s possessions by using a deadly weapon such as a gun or a knife. Everyday household items, like a baseball bat or a brick, can also be considered weapons when used in a robbery. However, robberies committed with a gun are usually punished more severely than other weapons—this is due to the fact that guns have a higher likelihood of injury or death compared to other weapons.

According to ARS 13-1904, a person commits armed robbery if they’re armed with, use, or threaten to use a deadly weapon or simulated weapons in the act of stealing from someone else. This can include objects like toy guns, a plastic knife, or even just a hand in the pocket. Although these are not deadly weapons in the traditional sense, they trick the victim into thinking the perpetrator has one.

Armed robbery in Arizona is a serious charge. Understanding what constitutes armed robbery is an essential first step for building a defense against charges.

What Is Armed Robbery in Arizona?

Armed robbery, meaning theft by force with a deadly weapon, is a class 2 felony in Arizona with a typical sentence of 4-10 years in prison. A person commits armed robbery by:

  1. Taking another person’s property by force
  2. That force involves a deadly weapon or a simulated deadly weapon
  3. Using or threatening to use a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument
  4. Taking possession of or attempting to take possession of a deadly weapon

It’s important to note that the defendant does not necessarily have to use the weapon to be charged with armed robbery. Examples of armed robbery can include taking someone’s wallet while holding a weapon, threatening a clerk with a gun to steal from a store, or stealing a purse while carrying a concealed gun.

Difference between Robbery and Armed Robbery?

Armed robbery is among the most serious of theft crimes. Somebody commits ordinary robbery when they use violence or the threat of violence to take property from another person. In a standard robbery charge, the perpetrator may use their hands to assault a person they steal from, but they do not use any physical objects or weapons.

The state elevates  a robbery charge to armed robbery when the person uses or simulates a weapon to commit the act. Conventionally, we think of a weapon as only a gun or a knife. However, a deadly weapon can be considered anything that can kill someone or cause substantial bodily harm.

Other examples of weapons can include:

  • A tire iron
  • A brick
  • A piece of wood
  • A bottle (if used to attack or injure someone)
  • A BB gun
  • A car (when used in an attempt to injure someone or run them over)

Armed robberies are punished more severely than most theft crimes, not only because they involve a weapon, but also because they are a victim’s crime. That is to say that those who commit an armed robbery personally confront their victims and take the property by means of aggressive force.

However, it’s important to note that a victim does not have to feel threatened for the offense to stand in court. The act of possessing a weapon alone is enough to charge a perpetrator with armed robbery. Simulating a weapon using something like a toy gun or a hand in a pocket is also enough to constitute an armed robbery.

What Are the Penalties for Armed Robbery?

Armed robbery sentencing in Arizona largely depends on the specific case and the severity of the offense. It depends mostly on whether or not an armed robbery case is considered a dangerous offense.

An offense is considered dangerous when the person committing a crime uses, discharges, or “threateningly displays” a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument. Because of the nature of armed robbery involving a weapon, the crime is almost always classified as a dangerous offense.

In general, a penalty for armed robbery can range between 4-10 years in prison, based on the presumptive sentences for class 2 felonies in Arizona. However, if an armed robbery charge is classified under “Dangerous Offenses” in A.R.S. 13.1904, it is associated with harsher penalties. Penalties for dangerous offenses are specified under A.R.S. 13.704 and include:

  • 1st Offense – 7 to 21 years in prison;
    • $750 to $150,000 fines
  • 2nd Offense – 14 to 28 years in prison;
    • $750 to $150,000 fines
  • 3rd Charge – 21 to 35 years;
    • $750 to $150,000 fines

As you can tell, the penalties for armed robbery are very serious, and even a 1st offense can mean serious prison time.

Depending on the circumstances of the crime, a perpetrator can also be charged with multiple other offenses. Armed robbery is related to offenses like theft, second-degree burglary, and aggravated assault. If a defendant is faced with multiple charges, they could face even more extensive consequences.

It’s Possible to Have your Armed Robbery Charges Reduced

Even though armed robbery charges are extremely serious, it is possible to have some penalties against you reduced under certain circumstances. Because armed robbery charges are often differentiated between dangerous offenses and non-dangerous offenses, you may be able to have your charges reduced to a non-dangerous offense with lower penalties.

One of the most common ways to have charges reduced from a dangerous offense is if you did not use, discharge, or display a weapon. For example, your case may be able to argue that an object was not used as a weapon or that a concealed weapon was not used as a threat in the process.

Other factors can influence the severity of your charges as well, like whether you were an accomplice instead of a primary perpetrator or if there was an error in the investigation. A reduction in charges can also depend on your defense and the strength of your case in refuting the charges.

Possible Defenses for Armed Robbery

Armed robbery charges do not always result in an open and shut case. There are several instances where a defendant may have a legitimate case to defend themselves against armed robbery charges.

Some grounds which may serve as appropriate defenses for armed robbery include:

  • No weapon involved – If it can be proven that no weapon was actually involved in the crime or that an object was not used as a weapon, a perpetrator can have charges dismissed or dropped to lower charges.
  • Unlawful search or seizure – An officer can only search a perpetrator if they have a warrant or a lawful exception for not having a warrant. If a police officer discovers a weapon through unlawful means, the weapon cannot be used as evidence, which can result in a reduction of charges.
  • Mistaken identity – In cases where the perpetrator wore a mask or the crime occurred in an area with low lighting, it’s possible that the victim mistakenly identified the defendant, and charges can be dismissed.

The strength of your case can often depend on your lawyer. It’s important to have an experienced criminal defense lawyer by your side to assist you in building a strong defense case.

Get Help with Armed Robbery Charges in Arizona

Arizona defendants accused of committing armed robbery face serious consequences. Armed robbery is a felony charge that almost always carries jail or prison time. Anyone charged with armed robbery in the Phoenix metro area or throughout Arizona should recruit a Mesa criminal lawyer to help them prepare their defense.

Allowing a public defender to be appointed to your case, in lieu of hiring an attorney, puts you at risk of receiving the harshest penalties under the law. By hiring a dedicated and experienced lawyer, you can potentially lessen the charges against you. At JacksonWhite, we offer clients our advanced dedication and expertise to navigate the legal process and build a strong defense.

We invite you to call for a free and private case review. We can discuss your options and help you decide which legal option is best for you moving forward.

Call the JacksonWhite Criminal Law team at (480) 418-4281 to discuss your case today.

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