What differentiates a charge of armed robbery from other dishonesty offences such as theft or burglary, is that it has an inherently violent nature, even where only a threat of violence occurs. Armed robbery is a very serious offence for which the normal punishment is an immediate, and potentially lengthy, term of imprisonment if you are found guilty.
SentencingSentencing in the higher courts of Victoria Please note that suspended sentences were abolished in the higher courts earlier than that of the Magistrates’ Court, and therefore all offences committed on or after 1 September 2013 will not have this available as a sentencing option.1
 Sentencing Advisory Council. Abolished Sentencing Orders, accessed November 23, 2020, https://www.sentencingcouncil.vic.gov.au/about-sentencing/abolished-sentencing-orders.
Armed robbery (s75A of the Crimes Act 1958) is an indictable offence, which means that it is triable by a judge and jury in the County or Supreme Court. It carries level 2 (25 year) imprisonment as a maximum penalty, which is the second highest maximum penalty behind life imprisonment.
This offence can only be heard in the County or Supreme Court as it is a strictly indictable charge which means it can not be heard summarily in the Magistrates’ Court.
Armed Robbery: Elements of the offenceSection 75A of the Crimes Act 1958 defines the elements that the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt to satisfy a charge of armed robbery:
A person will be guilty of armed robbery where:
- They commit any robbery;
- And at the time have with them a firearm, imitation firearm, offensive weapon, explosive or imitation explosive.
The offence of robbery is set out in section 75 of the Crimes Act 1958. To prove this offence, the Prosecution must establish beyond reasonable doubt the following elements:
The accused committed theft
The first element the Prosecution must prove is that the accused committed a theft (stole something). A person steals if he or she dishonestly appropriates property belonging to another and does so with the intention of permanently depriving the other of the property. An intention to temporarily deprive the owner of his or her property is not enough to meet the elements required of a theft.
The accused either:
- Used force on any person; or
- Put any person in fear that the accused or another person would, then and there, be subject to the use of force; or
- Sought to put any person in fear that he or she or another person would, then and there, be subject to the use of force.
- The use of force is easily established by way of any use of physical force.
- Put any person in fear requires that the victim must have feared that the force would be used “then and there”. There is a minimum standard for threats capable of meeting this element. The threat must be sufficient enough to cause personal intimidation.
- Sought to put any person in fear requires that the accused sought to put the victim in fear, even if that attempt was not successful. It is not a requirement that the victim was actually fearful.
This is in reference to element 2, namely, the force, fear of force, or act that sought to inflict fear of force, was applied “immediately before or at the time” of the theft. Force applied or fear induced after the fact will not meet the requirements of this element.
It is important to note that the act of theft can be a continuous act. The force applied or fear induced can occur at any time prior to the act of stealing being complete.
The accused did so in order to commit a theft.
Lastly, the force must have been used or threatened in order to carry out the theft.
The second element the prosecution must prove to satisfy a charge of armed robbery is that the accused had with them a firearm, imitation firearm, offensive weapon, explosive or imitation explosive with him or her at the time of the theft.
The accused must have possessed one of the described items for the purpose of the robbery. This element will be satisfied if the accused had on their person, at the time of the robbery, an article readily available for use. On the other hand, a person does not have an article with them for the purpose of this element if it is packaged in a way that it cannot be used (for example, if it is contained within a sealed packaged in a bag).
If the accused is unaware that he or she had the article on their person, they cannot be found to have possessed it for the purpose of the robbery. However, an article may be “used” by doing more than drawing attention to its existence.
Check out some of the criminal cases we’ve defended in court that involve the offence of Armed Robbery:
- Community Corrections Order Cancelled – Breach CCO, Armed Robbery
- Applying for Bail for Armed Robbery
- CCO for Armed Robbery and Recklessly Causing Injury
- Aggravated Burglary and Armed Robbery
- Withdrawing a Charge of Armed Robbery
Other important resources
The particular circumstances of the offence will determine the gravity of the offence, which will in turn determine whether a term of imprisonment will be imposed, and if so, how long it will be.
The sentencing Judge will commonly consider:
- The role of the individual person;
- The planning involved and method used;
- The value of the items stolen;
- The weapons that were involved and how they were used;
- The impact on the victim;
- The nature of the harm caused to the victim.