The People’s Lawyer

Armed robbery in West Virginia: Understanding the increased stakes

On Behalf of | Jan 19, 2024 | Criminal Defense

Robbery is the crime of taking or attempting to take anything of value from another person by force or threat of force. Technically speaking, robbery is larceny accomplished through an assault. While it’s possible to commit robbery unarmed, armed robbery is usually treated as the more dangerous offense.

Armed robbery is a serious crime in West Virginia, and it carries severe consequences.

Legal definition under state law

According to West Virginia law, robbery involving a deadly weapon is classified distinctly from simple robbery (without a weapon) and is subject to increased penalties. There are three important elements for an offense to become armed robbery, which set it apart from other theft offenses:

  • Deadly weapon involvement: The presence of a gun, knife or any item that can inflict serious bodily injury or kill.
  • Taking property: The offense must involve the offender taking property from a person or in their presence.
  • Force or threat: The offense must involve force against a person or the threat of force. Even if the offender never used their deadly weapon, the act of threatening to use it will still count as an element of the crime.

In West Virginia, there are two degrees of robbery, and armed robbery is robbery in the first degree.

Penalties for armed robbery

The stakes are much higher for those convicted of robbery because the offense has the potential for harm – or the offender had already harmed someone during the offense. Penalties include:

  • Using the threat of deadly force by presenting a firearm or deadly weapon: Imprisonment in a state correctional facility for not less than 10 years.
  • Robbing a person of money or property in the custody of a bank: Imprisonment in a state correctional facility for up to 20 years.
  • Robbery where an assault occurred, or the offender puts in jeopardy the life of another: Imprisonment in a state correctional facility for up to 25 years.

If a person commits another robbery offense for the second time, they must also serve an added five years on top of the sentence a court may impose.

If the person commits a third robbery offense, they face life imprisonment on conviction.

West Virginia law imposes strict penalties to reflect the seriousness of robbery crimes. If you’re facing these charges, you might want to consider consulting a lawyer who can help you navigate the complexities of the legal system.