Armed Robbery vs. Unarmed Robbery in MA

Robbery is defined as taking or stealing money or property from someone else’s control by force or violence. There are two main types of robbery offenses in Massachusetts: armed robbery and unarmed robbery. The following blog post is a breakdown of each charge. 

Armed Robbery 

The main difference between armed robbery and unarmed robbery is that the former involves the use of a dangerous weapon, which is defined as a device that can cause serious or fatal injury. Common examples of dangerous weapons include firearms, knives, explosives, brass knuckles, or an otherwise innocent item that is used intentionally to commit harm. 

The following are the four elements the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt to secure a conviction for armed robbery: 

  1. The defendant was armed with a dangerous weapon 

  1. The act of armed robbery was committed by force and physically harmed the alleged victim, or threat of such force, placing the alleged victim in a state of fear 

  1. The defendant robbed, stole, or took the alleged victim’s money or property with the intent to steal 

  1. The defendant took the alleged victim’s money or property out of the victim’s possession 

Armed robbery in Massachusetts is a felony offense, punishable by up to a lifetime prison sentence. But ultimately, the judge has the authority to sentence a defendant for any term of years, depending on the facts and circumstances of the case and the defendant’s criminal history. 

However, if a defendant committed armed robbery while wearing a mask or otherwise any form of disguise, the mandatory minimum prison term is five years for a first offense. A subsequent offense carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years. 

Additionally, if the dangerous weapon used in the alleged offense is a firearm, then the mandatory minimum sentence is five years for a first offense. A subsequent offense is punishable by a mandatory minimum term of 15 years. 

Unarmed Robbery 

Unlike armed robbery, this offense does not involve a weapon – only the element of using or threatening force or violence. Although a conviction for unarmed robbery carries the same sentencing range as armed robbery (i.e., up to life imprisonment), getting convicted of a second unarmed robbery offense carries a mandatory minimum term of two years.  

Furthermore, if unarmed robbery is committed against a person who is at least 60 years of age, a second or subsequent conviction also carries a two-year mandatory minimum term. Massachusetts law recognizes that elderly individuals are less capable of defending themselves and the robber may opt to simply steal their possessions and run, rather than use force or violence. 

Similar Offenses to Robbery 

Larceny from another person is defined as stealing or taking another person’s property or from the person of another. A conviction carries a maximum prison term of five years. 

Lastly, carjacking means using force or putting someone else in fear of harm in order to intentionally steal a motor vehicle. This offense is punishable by imprisonment of up to 15 years. 

If a dangerous weapon was involved in the alleged carjacking, then a conviction carries a maximum prison term of 20 years with a mandatory minimum sentence of one year. If the dangerous weapon is a gun, then the mandatory minimum prison term is five years. 

If you have been accused of armed robbery in Boston, call Brad Bailey Law at (617) 500-0252 or complete our online contact form today to request a free initial consultation. Our firm is led by a former state and federal prosecutor with more than 50 years of legal experience! 

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