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Criminal Defence Articles

What happens for a first offence of Armed Robbery?

Armed robbery is a very serious offence that has considerable personal impacts for both offenders and their victims. If you or someone you care about is facing armed robbery charges – or is already being prosecuted – getting the right legal information is essential. In this article, we outline the offence of armed robbery, provide some examples, and detail how activities in this area are punished. We also explain whether first time offenders are likely to go to prison for armed robbery.

What is the offence of armed robbery in the UK?

The offence of armed robbery in the UK is defined by Section 8(1) of the Theft Act 1968:

“A person is guilty of robbery if he steals, and immediately before or at the time of doing so, and in order to do so, he uses force on any person or puts or seeks to put any person in fear of being then and there subjected to force.”

This means that the following elements must be present for a person to be convicted of armed robbery:

  • The person must steal.
  • The person must use force or put or seek to put someone in fear of force.
  • The force or fear of force must be used immediately before or at the time of the theft.
  • The force or fear of force must be used in order to commit the theft.

Note that the use of a weapon, such as a firearm, imitation firearm, or offensive weapon, is not required for the offence of armed robbery. However, if a weapon is used, the offence will be more serious and the offender will likely face a longer prison sentence.

Armed robbery is a very serious offence and carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. Even if a person does not actually use force or put someone in fear of force, but simply makes them think that they are going to do so, this can still be considered armed robbery.

What are some examples of armed robbery offences in the UK?

Here are some examples of conduct that could amount to armed robbery:

  • Threatening to stab someone with a knife and demanding their money.
  • Pointing a gun at someone and telling them to give you their wallet.
  • Smashing a shop window with a hammer and grabbing cash from the till.
  • Grabbing a woman’s handbag and running away, while pushing her to the ground.
  • Breaking into a corner shop and threatening the owner with a baseball bat.
  • Entering a person’s parked car with them inside and demanding their car keys and other valuables.

What happens if you are suspected of committing armed robbery offences in the UK?

If you are suspected of committing armed robbery offences in the UK, you can expect a legal process to be initiated against you. Here’s a general overview of what may happen:

  • Investigation: The police will investigate the matter, which may involve collecting evidence, interviewing witnesses, and reviewing CCTV footage. If they have reasonable grounds to suspect your involvement, they may arrest you.
  • Arrest: If you are arrested, you will be taken into custody for questioning. The police will inform you of your rights and may conduct a search of your person and property.
  • Questioning: You may be questioned by the police, and it is very important that you exercise your right to remain silent until you have legal representation. You have the right to consult with a solicitor during this process.
  • Charge: If the police believe they have enough evidence, they may charge you with armed robbery. You will be informed of the charges against you.
  • Court Proceedings: You will be brought before a court. A preliminary hearing may take place to determine bail conditions. If bail is denied, you will remain in custody until your trial.
  • Trial: You will have the opportunity to plead guilty or not guilty in a court of law. The trial will involve presenting evidence, witnesses, and legal arguments.
  • Sentencing: If you are found guilty, the court will determine your sentence, which can include imprisonment, fines, and other penalties. The severity of the sentence depends on various factors, including the nature of the armed robbery, any injuries or harm caused, and your previous criminal record.
  • Appeal: If you are convicted and believe there were errors in the trial or you received an unjust sentence, you have the right to appeal the decision.

Never forget that regardless of your guilt or innocence, if you are accused of a crime, you have the right to legal representation and a fair trial. If you are concerned about the trial process, get in touch with a criminal defence solicitor who will explain everything to you and ensure all your rights are protected throughout.

What is the sentence for an offence involving armed robbery?

The sentence for an offence involving armed robbery in the UK varies depending on the seriousness of the offence and the offender’s criminal record. That said, it remains a very serious offence and carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

The Sentencing Council has issued guidelines on the sentencing of robbery offences. These guidelines take into account a number of factors, including the level of culpability, the harm caused to the victim, and the offender’s previous convictions.

Aggravating factors that may increase the severity of the sentence include:

  • The use of a weapon or imitation weapon
  • The use of violence or threats of violence
  • The targeting of a vulnerable victim
  • The commission of the offence in a group
  • The planning of the offence
  • The offender’s previous record of convictions, particularly for violent offences
  • The harm caused to the victim, both physical and psychological

Mitigating factors that may reduce the severity of the sentence include:

  • A guilty plea
  • The offender’s remorse and cooperation with the police
  • The offender’s mental health or other personal circumstances
  • The lack of previous convictions
  • The offender’s young age

Note that these are just general guidelines and, within the bounds of the law, the court has the discretion to impose any sentence it considers appropriate. For the best sense of what kind of sentence the court might impose, get in touch with an experienced criminal defence solicitor who can walk you through similar cases and advise on how a judge might read your particular circumstances.

Will I go to prison if it is my first time committing an offence involving armed robbery?

Whether or not someone will go to prison for a first-time offence involving armed robbery in the UK depends on a number of factors, including the seriousness of the offence, the harm caused to the victim, and the offender’s personal circumstances.

Statistics show that the likelihood of going to prison for a first-time armed robbery offence is high. According to the Sentencing Council, 78% of first-time offenders convicted of robbery in 2020 were sentenced to a custodial sentence. This means that only 22% of first-time offenders avoided prison.

The most common custodial sentence for a first-time armed robbery offence is a determinate sentence, which means that the offender will serve a fixed period of time in prison. The length of the sentence will depend on the seriousness of the offence and the offender’s culpability. The average sentence for a first-time armed robbery offence is between 4 and 8 years in prison.

In some cases, the court may impose a non-custodial sentence for a first-time armed robbery offence. This could include a suspended sentence, a community order, or a curfew. However, non-custodial sentences are less common for armed robbery offences than for other types of offences.

The following factors are likely to increase the likelihood of going to prison for a first-time armed robbery offence:

  • The use of a weapon or imitation weapon
  • The use of violence or threats of violence
  • The targeting of a vulnerable victim
  • The commission of the offence in a group
  • The planning of the offence
  • The offender’s previous record of convictions, particularly for violent offences

The following factors are likely to reduce the likelihood of going to prison for a first-time armed robbery offence:

  • A guilty plea
  • The offender’s remorse and cooperation with the police
  • The offender’s mental health or other personal circumstances
  • The lack of previous convictions
  • The offender’s young age

Overall, the likelihood of going to prison for a first-time armed robbery offence in the UK is high. The court will take into account a number of factors when determining the appropriate sentence, but the most common sentence is a determinate sentence of imprisonment.

Where to get further help

Being convicted – or even just charged – with armed robbery for the first time can have significant impacts on your personal and professional life, which is why it is so important that you secure the advice of an experienced criminal defence solicitor as soon as possible. For a free consultation about your options, contact the team at Stuart Miller Solicitors today.

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