Under NH law, a person can be charged with Robbery if he uses physical force (or threatens to use physical force) while committing a theft. See NH RSA 636:1
Accordingly, there are two basic scenarios whereby you can be charged with Robbery.
First Instance – Use of Physical Force + Theft
Let’s say that you were standing on the sidewalk and you see Mr. Doe walking towards you. As Mr. Doe gets closer, you notice that he is wearing a really nice watch (perhaps an Omega Seamaster Ocean Chrono).
You walk over to him. You punch him in the nose and rip the watch off of his wrist. Under NH law, you have just committed a Robbery because you used physical force (by punching him in the nose) as you committed a theft (stealing the watch).
Second Instance – Threat of Physical Force + Theft
This time, you are still on the sidewalk and Mr. Doe is walking towards you. You see the nice watch. You walk up to him and you say, “Hey, give me that watch or I am going to punch you in the face.” As you say this, your fists are clenched.
If Mr. Doe complies with your demand and hands you the watch, you can be charged with Robbery. Even though you did not actually punch Mr. Doe, you are still likely to be charged with Robbery because you “threatened the use of physical force” while you committed a theft.
These two examples are intended to show you that the charge of Robbery is easier to trigger than you might think. As you can see, the absence of a knife, gun, ski-mask, or note saying “this is a robbery” is not needed for the police to charge you with Robbery.
- By the way, under New Hampshire law, you could still be charged with Robbery even if you were not successful in getting the watch away from Mr. Doe! How? Because the definition of “theft” under the Robbery law (RSA 636:1 (II)) includes “attempted theft”. Thus, if you are unsuccessful in your attempted Robbery, you can still be charged with Robbery.
Other Things to Know About Robbery in NH
All Robbery charges are charged as felonies.
That means you can go to prison if convicted of such an offense.
Robberies like the above two examples would be charged as B felonies, which means there is a potential maximum sentence for 3 ½ – 7 years in prison. But, if in the above two examples, you used a dangerous weapon on Mr. Doe, then you would be charged with an A felony which could lead to a possible maximum sentence of 7 ½ – 15 years in prison.
Also, if you caused Mr. Doe to suffer from serious bodily injury during your stealing of his watch, you could be charged with an A felony Robbery. Therefore, in the situation where you punched him in the face, most reasonable prosecutors would not think that a bloody nose qualified for a “serious injury”.
But, if Mr. Doe’s nose was broken – then that might very well qualify for serious injury and land you with a Class A felony charge.
We realize that this is a lot of information to digest. The good news, however, is now you know a little more about the legal definition of Robbery than you did before you came across our site. If you have any questions about the charge of Robbery, then please feel free to call or e-mail us.
Our telephone number is: 603-595-5525