Armed Robbery or Strong Arm Robbery?

When is a robbery an armed robbery and when it is a strong arm robbery? It may depend on the state you call home.

The other day in the newsroom, we had stories about two different kinds of robbery that required us to select between the terms armed robbery or strong arm robbery.

There’s an important difference between the two, though it’s likely you may not have heard of a “strong arm robbery.”

Different states may well have different laws and some may not make the distinction that South Carolina does. So you might want to check with your state if you ever end up writing or speaking on the subject.

Armed Robbery

An armed robbery is the kind of thing we’ve seen on countless movies and TV shows: someone armed with a weapon — usually a gun but it can be a knife or something else — threatens someone’s life if they don’t hand over something the robber wants.

An armed robbery at a bank involves robbers demanding money from a teller, often after pointing a gun or showing one (or even implying they have guns).

Strong Arm Robbery

Attorney Russell D. Hilton explains that strong arm robbery doesn’t generally involve a weapon:

“Strong arm robbery is the taking by force or intimidation, the property of another.”

He gives a few examples on his website that help clarify the meaning of a strong arm robbery.

But one can remember the difference by thinking of a “strong arm” as one with big muscles. A robber who tries to use his muscle — either physically as in a threat or bodily harm or mentally through emotional intimidation — when a weapon isn’t directly involved, is committing a “strong arm robbery.”

An armed robbery will generally be considered a “violent crime,” and those charged with armed robbery may also find themselves charged with a charge of possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime.

A strong arm robbery generally isn’t considered a violent crime, so the prison sentencing guidelines are slightly less for a strong arm robbery charge.

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 27 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.