When Is Robbery Considered a Federal Crime?

a man in handcuffs

A person commits robbery when they take another person’s property without consent and with the use of force. Depending on the circumstances, robbery can be charged as a state or federal crime. If a robbery is charged as a federal crime, it can result in steeper penalties, such as longer prison time, heftier fines, and more.

Elements of Robbery

A robbery charge is typically comprised of the following elements that the government must prove:

  • You took the property of another person
  • You took the item against the owner's will
  • You took the item from another person or in their presence
  • You had intent to steal the property
  • You used violence or threatened violence during the act

What makes robbery different from other theft offenses is that it involves some sort of violence or threat of direct violence. The violence does not have to be deadly, just enough that the victim is forced to give up the property. 

When Robbery Becomes a Federal Offense

The U.S. government sets federal laws that apply to every person in the country, regardless of the state. In most cases, offenses are charged as federal crimes when they cross state lines, are committed on federal property, or against federal officers. Federal crimes are also often more serious—requiring law enforcement to implement harsher penalties.

A robbery can be charged as a federal crime in the following situations:

  • Bank Robberies: If a person steals property or money under the control of a financial institution, such as a bank or credit union, they can be charged with a federal crime. The charges of the crime will depend on the amount of money or property stolen.
  • Against a Federal Employee: If an individual robs a federal employee or an agent, such as a United States Postal Service worker, this can be considered a federal crime. 
  • Carrier Facilities: It's considered a federal crime to break into any type of vehicle shipping interstate or foreign items.
  • Controlled Substances: A person can be sentenced to 20 years in prison if they steal a controlled substance under the custody of a Drug Enforcement Administration agent.
  • Mail or Money: If a person assaults another person who controls mail, money, or property, it can result in a federal crime.
  • Motor Vehicles: When a person steals a vehicle that they are transporting across state lines or country borders, it can result in severe penalties.
  • U.S. Property: A person can face federal charges if they steal or attempt to steal property that belongs to the U.S.

If you face federal charges, you need an experienced attorney on your side who can help you get your charges reduced or even dismissed. Contact our federal criminal defense attorneys today at (602) 842-6762 to schedule a case review!

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