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Being charged with a crime as serious as aggravated robbery can be an overwhelming and even terrifying experience, especially given the legal consequences if you are found guilty. You are likely asking yourself what a good defence strategy needs to look like, what happens if you are sentenced, and whether things like suspended sentences for aggravated robbery are even a possibility. We understand how concerned you must be, and that’s why we have outlined the main elements of the offence in this article, along with answers to some of the most common questions we get about how an aggravated robbery case might proceed.
If you are charged with aggravated burglary in the UK, it is because the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) considers there to be sufficient evidence to secure a conviction for that offence.
Aggravated burglary is governed by Section 10(1) of the Theft Act of 1968, which states that ‘a person is guilty of aggravated burglary if he (or she) commits any burglary and at the time has with him (or her) any firearm or imitation firearm, any weapon of offence, or any explosive.
Still per Section 10(1), for the purposes of this offence, ‘firearm’, ‘weapon of offence’, and ‘explosive’ are defined as:
“firearm” includes an airgun or air pistol, and “imitation firearm” means anything which has the appearance of being a firearm, whether capable of being discharged or not; and
“weapon of offence” means any article made or adapted for use for causing injury to or incapacitating a person, or intended by the person having it with him for such use; and
“explosive” means any article manufactured for the purpose of producing a practical effect by explosion, or intended by the person having it with him for that purpose.
Section 10(2) prescribes that ‘a person guilty of aggravated burglary shall on conviction on indictment be liable to imprisonment for life.’ As we will see in more detail later, this means that the maximum sentence for aggravated burglary is life imprisonment, but a lesser sentence may be deemed appropriate, depending on the circumstances.
Yes, robbery is an aggravated (or ‘more serious or ‘worse’) form of theft. Robbery is understood as the taking away of a person’s property without their consent and with the threat or use or violence. Theft, on the other hand, is the taking away of a person’s property without their consent and without such threat or use of violence. It is the presence of the violence that ‘aggravates’ or ‘makes worse’ the offence of theft.
As mentioned, robbery involves the threat or use of force while theft does not. That is the main difference between the two. To help illustrate these differences, some examples might be helpful:
Aggravated burglary is a related offence that involves the offender either, as a trespasser, entering a building intending to steal, inflict grievous bodily harm, or do unlawful damage, or, having entered as a trespasser, stealing or attempting to steal, or inflicting or attempting to inflict grievous bodily harm. It must also be proven that, at the time of a burglary, the offender had with him (or her) any firearm or imitation firearm, any weapon of offence, or any explosive. This latter requirement is what makes the offence an aggravated one.
If you are proven guilty of aggravated burglary, the maximum sentence that you can get is life imprisonment. A lesser sentence may be given depending on the circumstances, but it is still highly likely that you will go to prison.
If violence was used against a person during the burglary, the suspect will also likely be charged with a form of assault or robbery, depending on the circumstances.
It is possible to get a suspended sentence for aggravated burglary, but this will only be given in the least serious of cases where the offender was deemed to be in the lower band of culpability for the offence (meaning they were proven to be involved through coercion, intimidation or exploitation and/or had a mental disorder or learning disability linked to the commission of the offence) and where the lowest level of harm was caused (meaning that no violence was used or threatened and there was limited physical or psychological injury or limited emotional or other impact on the victim).
In these cases, the rules on suspended sentences state that if the court would be imposing a term of imprisonment of between 14 days and 2 years, it may suspend the sentence for between 6 months and 2 years.
In reality, the likelihood of this happening is very low due to this being such a serious offence that is triable only in the Crown Court. It is, nonetheless, legally possible.
Robbery and indeed aggravated robbery are indictable only offences, which means that they can only be tried in the Crown Court. As a consequence, they fall outside of the general statute of limitations of six months that is in place for crimes that can be tried in the Magistrates’ court (in other words, if the crime is less serious and can be dealt with by a magistrate, the CPS only has six months from the date of the alleged offence to bring a charge).
Robbery is a very serious offence and it would be against the notions of public interest and justice if someone could get away with the offence just because of a period of time passing. While to some it may seem ridiculous for the CPS to bring a case against someone for a robbery that happened years or even decades ago, it is critical to the public’s confidence in the justice system that crimes are prosecuted no matter when the evidence was actually discovered.
It is actually quite rare for a first time offender to go to prison in the UK. According to Civitas, an organisation that collects data on offenders (among other things), only 8% of first time offenders actually get a prison sentence, and these are the most serious of offenders. The other 92% of first time offenders receive community service, fines, or suspended sentences. Some first time offenders even find their cases dismissed entirely if, for whatever reason, the judge decides that it is not in the public interest to prosecute them.
One reason for this is that, for most people, simply being charged with an offence and having to go through a court case is enough to make them apologetic, remorseful, and genuinely willing to correct their conduct (through therapy or drink and drug rehabilitation programmes, for example).
Another reason is that being a first time offender is actually a mitigating factor. If you are a first time offender, you by default have a clear criminal record and are likely to have acted out of character. Mitigating factors are matters that can be taken into account by a judge when sentencing, and their being ‘mitigating’ makes the sentence less severe than it would be otherwise. First time offenders, therefore, get an ‘automatic’ reduction in the severity of their punishments just by being first time offenders.
Of course, a judge may choose not to take these facts into account if the crime was serious enough or if the offender does not show any remorse or regret for their actions.
If you or someone you care about is facing a prison sentence for aggravated burglary, the best thing you can do is get a trusted and experienced solicitor onside to help navigate your options. Depending on the circumstances of your case, your legal representative might be able to advocate for a more lenient sentence, or they may even be able to find a full defence to your case. For a free, friendly, and non-judgemental conversation about next steps, get in touch with our team at Stuart Miller Solicitors today.
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