Armed robbery is much more common that other serious violent crimes, and it is often a crime that is overcharged by police. Officially called robbery with a dangerous weapon, thus crime is classified as a felony, and carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. Robbery has a maximum sentence of 15 years imprisonment. Dangerous weapon is a broad term that can be used to describe a number of objects, and this term is often a source of controversy in the courtroom. Knives, baseball bats, and brass knuckles are obvious examples of objects that are dangerous weapons under state law. Less obvious dangerous weapons can be objects such as broomsticks, scrap metal, and rocks. Keep in mind that dangerous weapon is a different legal term than deadly weapon, and this can give prosecutors more latitude when trying to prove a case. In many cases an experienced Baltimore armed robbery lawyer can argue that the weapon or object alleged to have been used should not be classified as a dangerous weapon.
Robbery with a dangerous weapon can also be charged if the defendant is alleged to have possession of a written instrument claiming that he or she has possession of a dangerous weapon. In plain language this basically means that it is illegal to pass or show a note to another person explaining that you have a weapon in your possession during the course the crime. This addition to the armed robbery statute was created to include the practice of passing a note to a bank teller during the course of a bank robbery explaining the existence of a weapon when in fact there is no weapon at all. This section of the statute would also apply to notes passed to a shopkeeper or clerk.
Maryland does not have a separate statute for robbery with a firearm, but does classify robbery with a handgun as a separate crime. Using a handgun during the commission of a violent crime is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 20 years in prison, with a mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years imprisonment. A mandatory minimum sentence means that the judge cannot legally impose less than a 5 year sentence and parole is not available. A defendant who commits a robbery with a handgun then faces up to 20 years in prison under the law, and an additional 20 years under the handgun law with a minimum sentence of 5 years in prison without parole. A judge is not required to run the two charges concurrently despite apparent double jeopardy complications. If you have been charged or are being investigated for robbery with a handgun or with a dangerous weapon, contact a Baltimore robbery lawyer immediately for a free consultation.