Man Mimics Gun With Hand in Pocket: Is it Armed Robbery?

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Mar 18, 2019 | 0 Comments

Police are investigating an incident where a man allegedly robbed a store in Philadelphia while with his hand in his pocket to mimic a gun. In most states, the incident would raise the question of whether this amounted to an armed robbery or not. In Pennsylvania, though, it does not matter: All robberies – armed or otherwise – are prosecuted under the same statute.

Hand in Pocket to Mimic Gun, Man Robs Store

The alleged robbery happened overnight on Monday, March 11, 2019, at the 7-Eleven store on Cottman Avenue in Philadelphia.

According to news reports of the incident, a man entered the store and asked for an E-cigarette. When the store attendant returned to the counter with the device, the man had put his hand in his pocket to mimic a gun. He then told the clerk to empty the register.

Approximately $250 was taken during the heist.

Most States Make Distinction Between Robbery and Armed Robbery

Most states in the U.S. have decided that committing a robbery while armed is a more egregious offense than taking property without the threat or use of a weapon, and have created different statutes for each offense.

In New Jersey, for example, there are separate provisions for robbery and armed robbery in the statute N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1. Simple robberies are second-degree crimes that carry five to 10 years in jail and up to $150,000 in fines. Robberies committed by an actor “armed with, or uses or threatens the immediate use of a deadly weapon,” on the other hand, are first degree crimes that carry up to $200,000 in fines and between 10 and 20 years in jail.

Pennsylvania: One Statute Fits All

In Pennsylvania, there is only one statute for all robbery prosecutions – 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 3701. Like most statutes that prohibit robbery, Pennsylvania's describes the offense as theft, plus an element of force or threatened force. Therefore, robbery can be committed in Pennsylvania when a theft involves any of the following:

  • The infliction of a serious bodily injury,
  • Intentionally putting someone in fear of an immediate and serious bodily injury, including via threat, as was the case in this particular robbery,
  • Threatening to commit, or actually committing, any felony in the first or second degree,
  • The use of force, however minimal, to take property off the person of someone else, or
  • Taking property from a bank by demanding an employee hand over the money

Of course, without separate offenses for robbery and armed robbery, completely different offenses can be punished with the same penalties. Both brandishing a gun and actually using it during a robbery can both lead to first-degree felony charges that come with 10 to 20 years in jail and up to $25,000 in fines.

Criminal Defense Lawyer Joseph D. Lento Works in Philadelphia

Joseph D. Lento is a criminal defense lawyer in Philadelphia who can provide effective legal defense for those accused of robbery in or near the city. Call his law office at (215) 535-5353 or contact him online if you are facing criminal charges today.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento passionately fights for the futures of his clients in criminal courtrooms in Philadelphia and across Pennsylvania as well as in New Jersey and nationwide. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. With unparalleled experience occupying several roles in the criminal justice system outside of being an attorney, Joseph D. Lento can give you valuable behind-the-scenes insight as to what is happening during all phases of the legal process. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, and is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide. In the courtroom and in life, attorney Joseph D. Lento stands up when the bell rings!


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Attorney Joseph D. Lento has more than a decade of experience successfully resolving clients' criminal charges in Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania counties. If you are having any uncertainties about what the future may hold for you or a loved one, contact the Lento Law Firm today! Criminal defense attorney Joseph D. Lento will go above and beyond the needs of any client, and will fight until the final bell rings.

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