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Does a written threat of a deadly weapon upgrade a robbery offense?

On Behalf of | Nov 20, 2023 | CRIMINAL LAW - Felonies

What sets the crime of robbery apart from mere theft is that in robbery, the act of stealing is accomplished using force or threat of force. The use of violence is why robbery is a felony in Maryland and other U.S. states when other non-violent minor theft offenses are misdemeanors.

Notably, if a person commits robbery with a deadly weapon, they could face more severe penalties on conviction than someone convicted of regular robbery. But what happens if a person attempts a robbery just by using a written note saying they’re armed? Is the offense still considered a robbery with a deadly weapon?

Written threats are taken seriously

According to Maryland law, it’s illegal to commit or attempt to commit robbery by displaying a written instrument saying that the person has a dangerous weapon. This “written instrument” may be any paper, document or other instrument that contains written or printed matter saying the threat.

The penalties for using a written threat in a robbery

A violation of the law is a felony; on conviction, the person faces up to 20 years of prison time. This is the same penalty faced by those convicted of robbery with a dangerous weapon.

By comparison, a conviction for robbery leads to imprisonment of up to 15 years.

Does a robbery involving a written note saying the person has a deadly weapon lead to greater punishment? Yes, it does; it also leads to the exact penalty levied on those convicted of armed robbery. It’s essential to remember that even if an offense doesn’t involve an actual weapon, prosecutors can still accuse a person for as long as the person used the threat of force during the crime.