Robbery Charges in Washington, D.C.

What constitutes robbery in D.C.? 

Robbery is a felony that carries 2-15 years in prison in Washington, D.C.  The offense of robbery is defined as taking property of another person with intent to steal, against that person’s will either by force or violence, by putting in fear, or by sudden or stealthy seizure.  This statute covers a broad range of conduct.  It includes classic robberies such as “muggings,” to purse snatching and pickpocketing.

What happens in a robbery case in D.C.? 

Once an individual has been charged with robbery, the first step, as in almost all other criminal cases, is securing pretrial release. The government often seeks pretrial detention in robbery cases, due to the seriousness of the offense.  However, we have had success obtaining pretrial release for our clients facing robbery charges by presenting evidence that, despite the allegations, they do not present a danger to the community or risk of flight.

The next step is preparing for the preliminary hearing.  Because robbery is a felony charge, the government must demonstrate probable cause prior to trial, which is the purpose of the preliminary hearing.  Although the government is often able to meet this low standard, the preliminary hearing is a valuable opportunity to learn details about the case, such as what type of robbery the government is claiming, and what the alleged circumstances were.

Once the preliminary hearing is over, your attorney must (if he has not already done so) conduct discovery and investigate the facts of the case.  Conducting discovery means obtaining evidence and information from the opposing side. Although criminal defendants are afforded only limited discovery rights, there are certain items of evidence the government is obligated to give you. For example, if there is video of the alleged incident, the government will be required to provide it.  Similarly, if the government is aware of information tending to show you did not commit the robbery, it must provide that as well.

Defenses to robbery

Because robbery covers such a broad range of conduct, it would be impossible to do even a general survey of the defenses available.  Contact one of our attorneys for a confidential case evaluation, and we can discuss any defenses you may have.

Possible Federal Involvement

 Although robbery is usually prosecuted at the state level, sometimes federal law enforcement can become involved in larger robbery cases under a federal law known as the “Hobbs Act.” If the FBI or other federal law enforcement agency suspects that the robbery you are accused of committing is connected to a larger pattern of criminal conduct, you may face indictment for Hobbs Act robbery.  In some cases, the federal government investigates and charges robbery on its own and in other cases it may take over cases from the state and local courts.

Because our attorneys practice regularly in both state and federal courts, we can advise you whether you are facing a federal robbery indictment or a state robbery charge that may attract the attention of the federal government.