Theft, Robbery And Armed Robbery: What’s The Difference?

Stephen R. Glazer

In Arizona, theft crimes can be misdemeanors or felonies often depending on the value of what was stolen. While theft can occur in many different ways, armed robbery and robbery are more straightforward charges that occur when force is brought into a situation that would usually constitute theft. Armed robbery and robbery are both felonies. Armed robbery is a class 2 and robbery is a class 4. Theft occurs when a person controls, converts, or otherwise takes “property or services of another” without legal authority. If you are loaned a car temporarily, and you keep it longer than you are allowed, that is a form of theft. Using material misrepresentation, as in concealing or lying about important information with the intention of getting someone to give you his or her property is theft. Theft can also occur when you happen to obtain possession of property, whether it is lost, stolen, or just given to you by mistake. If you get a package delivered to your door, and instead of trying to find the correct person or address it was meant for, you open it and keep the content: that is theft. If you know your friend stole the TV he gave you for Christmas and you still keep it: that is theft. Another form of theft is hiring someone to do a job for you, such as wash your car, and then you drive off without paying for the services. Taking anything from a vulnerable adult (such as an elderly person) while in a position of trust also constitutes theft.

A robbery is when someone, while is taking property from another person against their will, threatens or uses force against any person with the intent to coerce surrender of property or to stop resistance to them taking or keeping the property. One example of robbery would be if person A was shoplifting and as he ran out of the store, he punched the security guard who was trying to get in his way to stop him. Another example would be if person B stole a woman’s purse, and then hit her husband as he tried to stop person B from running away down the street. The important thing to remember is that robbery is a more serious version of theft and a situation can be charged as robbery as soon as there is force, or even just a threat of force, against another person, even if it looks like theft. Returning to the example above, maybe in the course of shoplifting, person A accidentally ran into the security guard because he did not see him as he ran out of the store. He could still be charged with robbery, not theft, based on the force.

Robbery and armed robbery are different crimes in Arizona, and the most well-known difference is the obvious one; armed robbery involves the use or threatened use of a deadly or simulated deadly weapon. Even if the person does not actually have a gun, just the threat of having a gun or knife, can be enough to charge armed robbery. If person C robbed a bank, and pointed her hand in the shape of a gun at the teller, she could be charged with armed robbery. For a charge of armed robbery it does not matter whether what the weapon is, and whether it is real or not. Pretending to have a weapon can quickly change a situation from robbery to an armed robbery.

If you are facing charges of theft, robbery, or armed robbery, call Flagstaff Criminal Defense attorney Steve Glazer at The Glazer Law Office, PLLC as soon as possible to schedule a free consultation at 928-213-9253 or fill out our contact form.

  • A.R.S. §§ 13-1902, 13-1904.
  • A.R.S. § 13-1802.
  • A.R.S. § 13-1802(B).
  • A.R.S. §§ 13-1902.
  • A.R.S. § 13-1904.

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