Robbery Laws & Charges

In Massachusetts, there are two type of robbery: armed robbery and unarmed robbery. Below are details about both types of these serious crimes.

Armed Robbery

Armed robbery is defined in Massachusetts General Laws c. 265.17. The law states armed robbery is where a person assaults another person and steals, robs or takes money or other property of value when armed with a deadly weapon. This is a serious felony crime in Massachusetts, and you can receive life in prison, or a term in prison of any number of years. To be convicted of this form of robbery in Massachusetts, the state prosecutor must prove these four elements beyond a reasonable doubt: (

  • You were armed at the time of the alleged crime with a dangerous weapon.
  • A threat was made to the victim that put him in a state of fear, or you used force to physically hurt the victim
  • You took the victim’s possessions with the intention of stealing it.
  • You took the victim’s possession of their control.

According to state law, a dangerous weapon is defined as one that could jeopardize life or lead to a serious injury. Massachusetts state law puts dangerous weapons into two categories. The first is a weapon that is designed to bring death or serious bodily harm, including these types of weapons:

  • Knives
  • Guns
  • Explosives
  • Switchblades
  • Brass knuckles
  • Swords

The other type of dangerous weapon that is not designed to produce death or great harm, but when is used in a dangerous manner, it can become a dangerous weapon. In these types of weapons, an item that could otherwise be innocent could be used as a dangerous weapon in some circumstances. For instance, if you point a pen or pencil at someone’s neck, this could be considered a deadly weapon.

Conviction on Armed Robbery

To convict you with armed robbery, the state prosecutor must prove that your assault and robbery were done with force or the threat of force. The level of force does not matter as long as the force was enough to allow the defendant to get the victim’s property or money against their will. The next element of possessions that were taken from the alleged victim can be determined through testimony from witnesses. The last element can be satisfied with evidence that the taking of the property was against the will of the alleged victim.

It can be challenging for the prosecution to prove each of these elements beyond a reasonable doubt. That is why you need a strong defense attorney such as Attorney Nathan fighting for you.

Armed Robbery Punishments in Massachusetts

Anyone convicted of armed robbery in the state can receive life in prison, or a lesser term. The judge has the discretion to sentence you to any number of years he sees fit. It depends upon the facts of the case and your criminal history. However, if you engaged in armed robbery while wearing a disguise, you must get at least five years in prison for the first offense and at least 10 years for the next offense.

Unarmed Robbery Punishments in Massachusetts

The crime of unarmed robbery in Massachusetts is described in Massachusetts General Laws c. 265.19. The law states unarmed robbery is the act where you through violence, force, or assault, steal or rob money or property from another person, without using a weapon. Unlike with armed robbery, using a weapon is unnecessary to be convicted of this crime. All that is necessary is the use or threat of force.

While unarmed robbery may be considered less dangerous than armed robbery, the state has harsh penalties for criminals convicted of this charge.

A person who is convicted of unarmed robbery can be put in state prison for any number of years, with the maximum penalty being life.

To be convicted in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for unarmed robbery, the following three elements must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • The stealing or robbery was done with force and violence, or by instilling fear
  • You robbed, stole or took money or property with the intent to steal it
  • The taking of the money or property was from the person of another

Unarmed Robbery of a Senior Citizen

State law recognizes that those who are older in age are less able to defend themselves and their property. The law also finds that a robber is not as likely to pull a weapon on a senior citizen; it is more likely they will simply grab their valuables and run for it. Because of this, state law imposes tough punishments on people who commit unarmed robbery of a person who is 60 or older. This crime can be punished by life in prison. Also, Massachusetts does have a statutory minimum sentence in this case of two years for any subsequent offense.

Defenses to Unarmed Robbery

There are several defenses in Massachusetts for the crime of unarmed robbery:

  • Lack of probable cause
  • Improper or overly suggestive eyewitness identification or lack of proximity of the items near the alleged victim

Depending on the circumstances and the skill of your attorney, some unarmed robbery charges can be reduced to a ‘larceny from a person’ charge, which is less serious. A conviction for this crime could get you up to five years in prison if the property was worth $250 or more; if it is less than $250, the punishment could be up to one year in jail.

So What’s Next

If you face an armed or unarmed robbery charge in Massachusetts, know the state prosecutor will do everything in their power to convict you of this serious crime. It is advised that you hired an experienced Boston criminal defense attorney to hopefully get the robbery charged reduced or dismissed. If you have been charged with this crime, Attorney Geoffrey Nathan can help you. For a criminal defense legal consultation, please contact him at (617) 472-5775.


Need Criminal Defense Help?

For a Federal or Criminal Consultation, call me today at 617-472-5775 or use the form below for your consultation. I will offer you expert help and answer any specific questions you have about your case. I handle criminal defense cases throughout all areas of Massachusetts including Boston, Cambridge, Newton, Springfield, Quincy, Lowell, Worcester, Fall River and national for Federal matters.

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Geoffrey G. Nathan Law Office
132 Boylston Street
Boston, MA 02116

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