Articles on South Carolina Law

Armed Robbery in SC: Fines, Penalties, Jail Time

by | Oct 4, 2017 | Armed Robbery, Criminal Defense

You are waiting in line to pay for a drink at the Exxon when someone suddenly comes in and says, “This is a stick up! I have a gun! Empty the cash register!”

From what you can see the man has something under his jacket that is in the shape of a gun. The cashier assumes it is a gun and gives the man the money in the cash register. All of the customers and the cashier are stunned. You see the man walk quickly outside the store and realize what everyone thought was a gun under the jacket was actually…. a banana. The man gets away with the loot from the register.

Is this man guilty of armed robbery even if he didn’t have a real gun? Does it matter that the people in the store thought the banana was a gun and they were in fear?

The Charges

The answer is the man could be found guilty of armed robbery. It does matter that the people in the store were in fear of the man having a gun. The man walked into the store with the intention of stealing the money out the register. He did so while pretending to have a gun. The plan worked. And now the man is facing a very serious charge of armed robbery.

Armed Robbery:

In South Carolina, Armed Robbery occurs when a person commits a robbery. You may be thinking, “Well, what is a robbery?” Robbery means that one person takes something from another that does not belong to him, and in the process displays some kind of violence or intimidation.

The person that is doing the stealing would have some way of making the other person feel scared. The value of the stuff that is taken does not have to be of great value. The point is that the stuff was taken, it didn’t belong to him, and it was taken by force.

Here are the requirements of an armed robbery charge:

1. Armed with a Deadly Weapon

If the person doing the stealing is armed with a deadly weapon, then it’s armed robbery.

2. Claims to be Armed with a Deadly Weapon

If the person doing the stealing is not armed with a deadly weapon, but claims to be or implies he is armed with a deadly weapon, he can be guilty of armed robbery. What does claims to be armed with a deadly weapon mean?

As in the example above, you don’t have to actually have a deadly weapon. The banana had the shape of a gun and the dude said he had a gun, the customers and the cashier believed he had a gun and they were scared… and that’s enough to meet the deadly weapon criteria.

The person doing the stealing can either use words to make people think he has a deadly weapon or he can use actions. The important thing to remember is the effect of the wrongdoer’s words or actions on the victims: Did they think he was armed with a deadly weapon? If so, he may be found guilty of Armed Robbery.

  1. Taking of Another’s Property

One important element of larceny, which is related to robbery is the property or stuff that was stolen must belong to another. You can’t steal your own property. The stolen stuff doesn’t have to be taken from the person that owns it.

For example, Mike and Jill do not live together, but are friends. Mike agrees to let Jill borrow his car while her’s is in the shop. Mike’s car at Jill’s house when Nancy steals Mike’s car. Nancy is still guilty of larceny even though Mike’s car was in Jill’s possession when it was stolen.

Attempted Armed Robbery:

A person who tries to commit a robbery, but doesn’t actually steal anything could be found guilty of Attempted Armed Robbery. In that type of situation, the wrongdoer would be armed with deadly weapon, or he could just imply he’s armed with a deadly weapon through his words or actions.

What is a deadly weapon?

Many people think of traditional “weapons” as deadly weapons, like a pistol, gun, rifle, knife, slingshot, metal/brass knuckles, razor, etc. But most anything can be used as a deadly weapon even if it normally isn’t thought of or used as a deadly weapon.

For example, a car. Most people don’t think of it as a “weapon” but if someone makes another person think they will be run over if they don’t hand over the items being stolen, a car can be used as a deadly weapon. Some other examples would be a baseball bat, golf club, tire iron, scissors, box cutter or anything that can be used to make someone scared during a “hold up.”

So there’s no list of things that can or cannot be used as deadly weapons. The test is whether the victim reasonably believes the item to be a deadly weapon and whether that person is scared, intimidated or feels threatened by the item.

What counts as an attempt?

I have been asked before, “Why am I being charged with Armed Robbery if I didn’t actually steal anything?”

For example, imagine a burglar has been planning to break into a rural farm house. The robber has been watching the farmhouse and believes he knows the hours when the homeowner is there. The robber decides to rob the house when the owner is not home. The owner is not home when the person enters the farmhouse. However, while the burglar is in the home trying to steal some guns, the homeowner comes home and catches the robber in the act. The Robber is armed with a knife, but the homeowner holds the robber at gun point until the police arrive. Even though the robber didn’t steal anything, he still could be guilty of attempted armed robbery.

Attempt is a specific intent crime, meaning you must have had the specific intent to steal something that wasn’t yours. When the robber took the direct, overt act of breaking and entering into the farm house, with the intent of stealing the gun and actually pulling a deadly weapon on the home owner, he can be guilty of Armed Robbery.

What is a “reasonable belief?”

The reasonable belief of the victim in an armed robbery must be reasonable. The reasonable belief is based on what an average person would believe.

The Penalties:

Armed Robbery

Armed robbery is Class A Felony. It is also classified as a “Most Serious Offense” under SC Code 17-25-45(C)(1).

It carries a mandatory minimum prison time of 10-30 years. A person convicted of armed robbery can’t be sentenced to less than 10 years in prison. Also, they can’t be sentenced to more than 30 years in prison. Probation is not an option is someone is convicted of armed robbery. It may be possible, depending on the situation, for someone charged with armed robbery to be found guilty of a lesser type of crime that does not carry a mandatory minimum sentence.

If someone is convicted of armed robbery, they will likely never be eligible for an expungement (unless the expungement laws change).

They cannot be eligible for parole until 7 years of the sentence has been served. This type of offense is a no parole offense.

Sentencing pursuant to the South Carolina Youthful Offender Act (YOA) is not an option for an Armed Robbery conviction.

Attempted Armed Robbery

Attempted armed robbery is a Class C Felony. It is also classified as a “Most Serious Offense” under SC Code 17-25-45(C)(1).

If you are convicted, you could be looking at 0-20 years in prison. Under certain circumstances, someone could possibly get probation for attempted armed robbery since it does not have a mandatory minimum.

This type of offense is a no parole offense, which means a person can’t be released until he has served at least 85% of his sentence. For example, if someone gets a 10 year sentence, they would have to serve at least 8 and a half years before they were eligible to be released.

A conviction for Attempted Armed Robbery is not eligible for an expungement (unless the expungement laws change).

Ready to take the next step?

If you or someone you know is charged with Armed Robbery, it is a very serious offense and that person is facing substantial prison time. A conviction would no doubt alter their life and future.

It is important to find an attorney who has the time to visit your loved one in jail, meet with the family, review the evidence, and discuss all defenses and options. A serious case deserves attention to detail. 

Attorney Susan E. Williams handles Armed Robbery cases, enjoys problem solving, and will provide you with honest, thorough representation.

Set up a free consultation so that Attorney Susan E. Williams can examine the facts of your case. You don’t have to fight this battle alone.

Just call (843) 607-9800 or contact us through our online form.

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