Federal Criminal Defense – Armed Robbery – New Jersey District

Armed robbery is a crime where you used a weapon to threaten, injure, or kill a person to steal their property. Additionally, you do not have to use a real or dangerous weapon or even have a weapon at all. You can also face charges of armed robbery if you:

  • Used a fake gun or weapon not normally considered lethal, such as a pellet gun or water pistol
  • Stated or implied you had a weapon even though you were unarmed

In some cases, armed robbery can elevate to a federal charge, and you can face prison time and considerable fines if convicted. If you have been arrested on federal charges of armed robbery, you need a full evaluation of your case from an experienced federal defense attorney who can help you develop a strong defense strategy and fight for your rights and future.

When Is Armed Robbery a Federal Offense?

According to federal law, crimes of robbery and burglary elevate to the federal level when any of the following apply:

  • The crime occurred on federal property.
  • It happened across state lines or country borders.
  • It was against a federal officer or employee, such as a postal worker
  • It involved robbing the government or a federal institution, such as a bank, or trying to steal the government's property.

The following can also result in charges for federal armed robbery:

  • Robbing a carrier facility, including a customs facility
  • Transporting stolen vehicles across state or international boundaries
  • Stealing controlled substances

The penalties you can face if convicted will depend on the specific charges against you, and the facts and circumstances surrounding your case will be crucial in preparing your defense.

Potential Penalties

The government imposes harsh penalties for convictions of federal armed robbery. You could receive up to 15 years in prison if the crime occurred on federal property, which includes national parks and federal prisons, along with ships and aircraft belonging to or registered with the U.S. government.

Other possible penalties include the following:

  • 15-year maximum prison sentence for stealing “personal property of the United States”
  • 15 years maximum for transporting stolen vehicles across state or international lines. You could also receive up to 25 years if you injure someone while committing the offense.
  • Up to 10 years for a first offense of stealing mail, money, or other U.S. property. You can also receive up to 25 years if you injure or threaten the life of the person holding the property. An example is robbing a mail carrier at gunpoint.
  • Up to 5 years for robbing a post office or up to 10 for robbing a carrier facility.
  • Up to 25 years for armed robbery of controlled substances or for armed bank robbery.

Penalties for conviction of federal armed bank robbery can also include substantial fines as high as $250,000, and penalties for any type of armed robbery can include fines.

In all cases, you could receive enhanced penalties if you killed or kidnapped someone in the process of the robbery or during your attempt to escape. The law mandates a 10-year minimum prison sentence, and the maximum penalty could be life in prison or even the death penalty.

Possible Defenses for Federal Armed Robbery

Considering the potential impact on your life and future, you need to review all of your options when developing your defense. Although the government may think it has enough evidence against you, it will have to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. The evidence can be challenged, and under closer scrutiny, it may not support your involvement in the crime at all. Some of the following defense options may be pertinent to your case:

  • Location of the crime/jurisdiction – If the crime did not occur on federal property or within a territorial jurisdiction of the U.S., you shouldn't face federal charges for armed robbery. The same holds if you did not try to steal property belonging to the federal government. The government can only prosecute crimes that fall under its jurisdiction, and the evidence may support that the government has overstepped its bounds in bringing charges against you.
  • Duress – If someone forced you to commit the crime through threats or violence, you may be able to claim you acted under duress. This means that you did not act of your own free will, and you would have never engaged in such an action on your own.
  • False accusations – Sometimes, people do not want to accept responsibility for their crimes and look for scapegoats. Some people seek revenge on others by falsely accusing them of crimes as well.
  • Mistaken identity – Many armed robbery crimes are hard to prosecute because the perpetrators are wearing masks. Additionally, witnesses may provide incorrect information, whether intentional or not, and even visual evidence like videos and photos is sometimes blurry and hard to see. Prosecutors will have to prove it was you who committed the crime, and you may have options for challenging their accusations.
  • Not a bank – For any type of bank robbery, the federal government can prosecute if the financial institution falls under the definitions in 18 U.S.C §2113 (f)-(h). Although the definition is broad and includes all state, federal, and international banks and credit unions, you should not be prosecuted for federal charges of bank robbery if you can show the entity did not fall under federal jurisdiction.

You may have other defense options available, but you will need a careful review of your case from an experienced federal criminal defense attorney.

Hire a Federal Defense Attorney

Attorney Joseph D. Lento has many years of experience helping clients in New Jersey who are facing charges of federal armed robbery. He has tried numerous cases in federal courts, and he will thoroughly review your case and advise you of your options. He can also help you build a solid defense strategy and fight for your future. Call the Lento Law Firm at 888-535-3686 or fill out our contact form to request a confidential consultation.

​​​Contact The Lento Law Firm Today

When it comes to criminal defense cases, you need the right person in your corner. To learn more about how Mr. Lento can help you, call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686. or contact him online.

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