Robbery, Theft, and Assault: Crimes Against People vs. PropertyLegalese is as confusing as it is intimidating. While all the intricacies of the law are in place to make it as fair as possible, it still has the unfortunate result of alienating those it is meant to protect. Of course, pop culture is no help, with how frequently legal language is misused in shows and movies. How many times have you heard murder used interchangeably with homicide? Or that you must be read your Miranda rights immediately upon your arrest?

This “crime” is not so victimless when someone is facing criminal charges in real life. Understanding the charges being brought against you is a necessary part of defending yourself. If you are facing charges of robbery, you need to know the true severity of a robbery conviction in the state of Maryland, and why thinking it is a type of theft charge can only hurt you.

Robbery versus theft

Despite popular belief, theft and robbery are not the same thing. While both involve taking property or money without permission, that is where the similarities end.

Theft (an umbrella term that includes multiple types of charges) usually involves taking the property or money of someone else without permission, carrying it away from the scene, and intending to keep it. It can also include the possession of stolen goods, even if you are not the person who actually stole them. Examples of theft charges include:

  • Shoplifting
  • Embezzlement
  • Identity theft
  • Theft of services (when a service is given but not paid for without consent)
  • Fraud

Robbery, on the other hand, involves depriving a person of his or her money, services, or property without permission with intent to keep it, using force or intimidation. Whether this is a threat of violence or the actual use of a weapon, it can still lead to a robbery charge. It is also important to note that regular theft charges do not require the victim to be present, but a robbery does. The property must be taken directly from the victim. So, while theft charges are certainly not ideal and can lead to life-long ramifications, a robbery is considered the more severe crime — and is treated accordingly.

Evidence of an attempt to cause injury, or proof of intimidation, is precisely why robbery is considered a crime against a person rather than theft.

Is robbery the same as assault?

In Maryland, assault is defined as nonconsensual touching that causes harm. Like robbery, it is categorized under “Crimes Against a Person.” Both the threat and the attempt to cause harm also fall under assault, as can even just causing another person to fear the possibility of injury. However, robbery has its own category in the Maryland Code. So while robbery is assaultive, they are different charges.

What is assault?

Maryland recognizes three degrees of assault charges:

  • Assault in the first degree refers to an attempt or intent to cause bodily harm to another, and includes any altercations with any sort of weapon if it results in significant damage. Those convicted of this felony face up to 25 years in prison.
  • Assault in the second degree regards physical harm against law enforcement or first responders. This misdemeanor includes battery, unwanted touching, and violent threats and is punishable by 10 years in prison and a fine of $2,500.
  • Reckless endangerment refers to assault without intent. Any sort of dangerous behaviors, such as drunk driving or discharging a firearm, could land someone this charge. You may be facing five years in prison and a fine of $5,000, depending on the severity of the incident.

An assault conviction in any capacity can have reverberating repercussions for your personal and professional life. Working with proper legal representation can help mitigate any possible consequences if a full dismissal is not an option, which could include lessening your fine or sentence. Skilled defense attorneys know how to build a case and present it to the court in a way that emphasizes your innocence and protects your rights. Thankfully, assault charges can in fact be dismissed as long as the prosecution agrees, which is also something an attorney can try to make happen.

Do I need a defense lawyer for robbery charges?

Legally, you are never required to hire an attorney. With charges like robbery, however, you are best served having a defense lawyer on your side. The nature of the charge means arguing self-defense could be difficult, but that does not mean there are no other options.

Furthermore, you could find yourself experiencing biases and prejudices from those around you regardless of the truth, as robbery charges are often seen as a moral failing. Of course, that is not fair – and that is exactly why you should not face it alone.

A robbery charge is nothing to scoff at, but you do have options to protect your freedom, your finances, and your reputation. A criminal defense attorney from Carey Law Office can help. We have decades of experience advocating for justice on behalf of our clients in and around Bowie and Crofton, and we are here to share that experience with you. We know how to make a defense stick. To learn more about how we can help, give us a call today at 301-464-2500 or use our contact form. Whether you need us here in Bowie, Crofton, or Owings, or have been charged elsewhere in Maryland, we want to put your life back in your own hands.