In New York and all other states, robbery is the taking and converting of another's property by means of physical force. Armed robbery is the same offense but with a gun, knife or other deadly weapon displayed by the robber. Robbery and armed robbery are almost always felony charges, but the degree of felony depends on the state statute that classifies crimes.
Recently, the New York State Police arrested two men in Tompkins County for robbery and possession of cocaine. Police say that the two men, ages 31 and 33, forced the victim to the ground and then stole his clothing and backpack allegedly containing $3,000. The incident occurred at the Trumansburg Fair Grounds on the last day of the Grass Roots Festival.
Police were called to the scene by a call reporting a robbery. They interviewed the victim and witnesses and apparently received identifying information about the two suspects, although the reports are unclear on precisely how the police identified the two and took them into custody. They are charged with Robbery in the Second Degree, a Class C Felony that carries a sentence of up to 15 years.
The older suspect was allegedly found with 44.9 grams of cocaine on his person. He was charged with Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the third degree, which is a Class B felony. If the police had probable cause to take the two into custody, they would have had the right to search each suspect's person for weapons or contraband.
Criminal defense counsel will be initially concerned with whether the suspects were properly identified and whether the police had probable cause to arrest them for these felony charges under New York law. Additionally, it is unclear if the victim knew his assailants, or why the victim was carrying $3,000 in a knapsack. If the evidence proves that the accused were the perpetrators, counsel for each will attempt to find mitigating circumstances or to build up bargaining points with the prosecutors to obtain reduced charges and a reduced sentence.
Source: ithaca.com, "Robbery, Cocaine Arrest at GrassRoots", July 22, 2015