What is Robbery in New Jersey?
Robbery is defined in New Jersey Criminal Code N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1. In New Jersey, a robbery occurs when a person commits theft and a second act or threat of violence at the same time. Such a second act includes:
- Inflicting bodily injury or using force upon another person
- Threatening another person with or purposely putting them in fear of immediate bodily injury
- Committing or threatening to immediately commit any crime of the first or second degree
If a person commits one of those acts in the course of committing a theft, while attempting to commit a theft, or while fleeing after committing a theft, the theft becomes a robbery.
Robbery is typically a crime of the second degree. However, robbery can be a first-degree crime if a weapon is used or if the person attempts to kill or inflict serious bodily injury upon the victim.
There are also several subsets of robbery, which include carjacking and armed robbery.
Carjacking is a type of robbery in New Jersey. The state defines carjacking as when the defendant:
- Inflicted injury or used force on the occupant or person in possession or control of the vehicle
- Threatened the owner or occupant with immediate bodily injury
- Committed or threatened to commit a first- or second-degree crime; or
- Operates the vehicle or causes it to be operated with the owner or operator in the vehicle
Carjacking is a first-degree crime and can lead to a sentence of five to 30 years. Serving at least five years in prison is mandatory for carjacking.
Armed robbery includes all robberies committed using a deadly weapon, force, or immediate threat of bodily injury. Armed robberies are first-degree crimes in New Jersey. If a weapon was used, weapons charges mandate a prison sentence of at least three-and-a-half years.
Grading and Penalties for Robbery
In New Jersey, the potential sentences for a person convicted of robbery are severe. There are several grades of crimes — most notably first- and second-degree — that can equate to anywhere from five years to more than 20 years in prison.
The law states robbery in New Jersey starts as a second-degree crime but can advance to a first-degree crime depending on the circumstances. A robbery advances to a first-degree crime if the person committing the robbery:
- Attempts murder
- Inflicts or threatens to inflict bodily injury
- Uses, threatens to use or is armed with a deadly weapon
First-degree robbery, including armed robbery, can lead to a sentence of 10 – 20 years in New Jersey State Prison. A second-degree robbery can lead to a sentence of five to 10 years in New Jersey State Prison.
If a firearm is used in the robbery, additional weapons charges will be added, and the defendant will be subjected to a mandatory New Jersey State Prison sentence. In this case, according to N.J.S.A. 2C:43-6(c), the defendant must serve a minimum of three-and-a-half years in New Jersey State Prison.
No Early Release Act
Additionally, any person convicted of robbery in New Jersey must serve 85% of the sentence before they are eligible for parole. This restriction is part of N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2, also known as the No Early Release Act. The act was passed in 1997.
More broadly, the No Early Release Act requires defendants convicted of violent crimes serve most of their term before being released. Because robbery is defined as theft combined with a violent act, robbery is one of the offenses that fall under the No Early Release Act. This mandates all defendants convicted of a robbery charge serve at least 85% of their prison sentence before being eligible for parole.
Defending Against Robbery Charges
A robbery charge requires a strong defense, as a conviction can have a significant impact on every aspect of your life. The prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt the defendant:
- Committed or attempted to commit theft
- Used or threatened to use force in carrying out the theft
- The force or threatened force occurred in the process of the theft or while fleeing from the theft
- Committed the act intentionally
A strong legal team can guide you through the justice system and prevent any unfair treatment or ruling as the case is tried.
Zealous and Aggressive New Jersey Robbery Defense
The best way to avoid these penalties is to immediately hire an attorney who can advocate on your behalf, advise you of your rights and guide you through the criminal justice system. If you or someone you know is facing a robbery charge in New Jersey, speak with Rosenberg | Perry & Associates. We can provide the guidance and counsel you need to make informed decisions and protect your rights.
As your advocate, we can better defend our clients when we are engaged at the early stages of a case. We provide clients with knowledge and advice to protect their rights and interests. Call us today at (609) 216-7400 to get a free consultation on your case.