ARS § 13-1903 is the Arizona statute that defines the crime of aggravated robbery. People commit this offense when they rob someone, aided by one or more accomplices. A violation of this law is a Class 3 felony punishable by almost nine years of prison time.
The language of ARS § 13-1903 states:
A. A person commits aggravated robbery if in the course of committing robbery as defined in section 13-1902, such person is aided by one or more accomplices actually present.
B. Aggravated robbery is a class 3 felony.
Arizona’s robbery statutes include:
- robbing someone while a friend helps.
- taking someone’s wallet while two accomplices threaten the “victim.”
- stealing a woman’s purse after an accomplice threatens to hit her.
Criminal defense lawyers draw upon several legal strategies to help defendants challenge aggravated robbery charges. Some of these include an attorney showing that:
- no accomplice helped the accused,
- the accused had a rightful claim to the property being taken, and/or
- the defendant was a victim of mistaken identity.
In this article, our criminal defense attorneys will discuss what the law is under this statute, defenses available if charged, the penalties for a conviction, and related crimes.
1. How does Arizona law define “aggravated robbery”?
Arizona criminal law says that people are guilty of aggravated robbery when they:
- commit the crime of robbery, and
- do so while aided by one or more accomplices.i
People commit “robbery” when, in the course of stealing property from someone’s person or immediate presence, they use a threat of force or actual force to complete the stealing.
Note that an “accomplice” is someone who knowingly and voluntarily helps someone else commit a crime.ii
Note, too, that a threat of force does not require that a person act with a:
- deadly weapon, or
- dangerous instrument.
Rather, those items are required for armed robbery charges.
2. Are there defenses to charges brought under ARS 13-1903?
People accused of criminal charges under this statute can contest them with a legal defense/disclaimer. Three common defenses include defendants showing that they:
- did not get help from an accomplice.
- had a rightful claim to the property involved.
- were the victim of mistaken identity.
2.1 No accomplice
Recall that people are only guilty in these criminal cases if they receive help from an accomplice. Therefore, a legal defense is for an accused to show that he/she acted alone or did not get assistance from an accomplice. Remember, though, that the accused could still be charged with the underlying robbery charge.
2.2 Rightful claim
Defendants can only be charged with robbery if they steal property away from someone else. A defense, then, is for accused people to show that there was no underlying robbery because they were trying to keep some property to which they had a rightful claim.
2.3 Mistaken identity
Accusers often falsely identify suspects in robbery cases. This occurs because offenders typically try to commit the crime when it is dark out or while wearing a mask or a disguise. This means that it is always a defense for a defendant to show that he was a victim of mistaken identity.
3. What are the penalties?
Arizona law treats aggravated robbery as a serious crime.
That is why a conviction under ARS 13-1903 is a Class 3 felony.iii
A first offense under this statute is punishable by a state prison term of between two years and eight years, nine months.
Prison sentences for this crime increase if defendants have prior convictions under this statute.
4. Are there related offenses?
There are three crimes related to aggravated robbery. These are:
- theft – ARS 13-1802,
- 2nd degree burglary – ARS 13-1507, and
- aggravated assault – ARS 13-1204.
4.1. Theft – ARS 13-1802
Under ARS 13-1802, theft occurs when someone knowingly uses or takes another person’s property or services without lawful authority to do so.
Unlike with robbery, a defendant commits theft without using threats or force. Further, such a person can commit the crime without getting help from an accomplice.
4.2. 2nd-degree burglary – ARS 13-1507
Per ARS 13-1507, second-degree burglary is when a person:
- unlawfully enters or remains in or on a residential structure, and
- does so with the intent to commit any theft or felony once inside.
Note that under Arizona law, first-degree burglary is when a person commits a burglary under ARS 13-1507 and does so while in the possession of:
- a deadly weapon, or
- a dangerous instrument.
Unlike with burglary, a person can commit robbery outside of a residential structure. For example, a person can commit the offense essentially anywhere, including in an alleyway, on commercial property, or on governmental property.
4.3. Aggravated assault – ARS 13-1204
Under ARS 13-1204, aggravated assault is an offense when someone:
- assaults another person, and
- does so by means of certain aggravating factors (for example, by assaulting someone and causing serious physical injury).
Recall that a person has to use either a threat of force or actual force to be guilty of robbery. If a person uses actual force, then it is possible for that party to be charged with both:
- robbery, and
- aggravated assault.