Robbery and armed robbery are both felony offenses in Georgia. A robbery involves taking property directly from, or in the immediate presence of, an individual—whether by force, threat, intimidation, or sudden snatching. A person convicted of robbery in Georgia faces anywhere from one year to life in prison. The harshest penalties apply in cases of armed robbery.
Georgia law defines robbery as taking property directly from another person or in their immediate presence by:
An armed robbery adds the element of using or appearing to use a weapon in the commission of a crime. The weapon does not need to be real or working. Using a fake (even a toy) gun constitutes armed robbery, as does keeping a hand concealed while threatening to shoot a victim.
The phrase "immediate presence" doesn't necessarily mean that the robbery must occur right in front of the person. The immediate presence requirement is met if the defendant takes property from an area that would be under the victim's control if the victim wasn't prevented by fear or force. For instance, the court upheld an armed robbery conviction when the defendant took jewelry, cash, and a camera from the victim's home after she'd been forcibly locked in the bathroom. (Ga. Code §§ 16-8-40, 16-8-41; Avila v. State, 744 S.E.2d 405 (Ga. App. 2013).)
A person who commits robbery faces stiff felony penalties. The possible prison sentence increases as the threat of harm increases.
Robbery. A person convicted of robbery faces one to 20 years in prison. If the robbery victim is 65 or older, the crime carries a minimum prison sentence of five years.
Armed robbery. Armed robbery is punishable by a minimum prison sentence of ten years and up to life imprisonment. A conviction for armed robbery is considered a “serious violent felony” for sentencing enhancement purposes (see Repeat offenders below).
Armed robbery of a pharmacy. Georgia imposes specific penalties on defendants who take a controlled substance from a pharmacy or other drug dispensary by armed robbery. If the defendant intentionally injures anyone during the commission of the crime, the minimum punishment is 15 years.
Hijacking a vehicle. Stealing a vehicle from or in the presence of a person is considered motor vehicle hijacking (sometimes called carjacking). This crime falls under a separate section of Georgia law but contains similar elements. Hijacking a vehicle carries a felony sentence of one to ten years’ incarceration. If the person possesses a firearm or weapon and obtains or attempts to obtain the vehicle by force, violence, or intimidation, the person faces ten to 20 years in prison. A second offense results in life imprisonment.
Repeat offenders. In the case of robbery or hijacking, a judge must impose the maximum sentence available for any defendant who has a prior felony conviction and served time in prison for that offense. For a second conviction of a “serious violent felony” (which includes armed robbery), a defendant faces life without parole.
(Ga. Code §§ 16-5-44.1, 16-8-40, 16-8-41, 17-10-6.1, 17-10-7 (2020).)
If you face criminal charges for robbery or armed robbery, contact a criminal defense attorney right away. A lawyer can help explain the criminal process and penalties you might face, protect your constitutional rights, and defend your case.