What is Unarmed Robbery in Massachusetts?

In Massachusetts, a defendant shall be found guilty of unarmed robbery if the prosecution proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant:

  • By force and violence OR by assault and putting in fear;
  • Robbed, stole, or took from another person;
  • Money or property which may be the subject of larceny.

The elements of unarmed robbery charges in Massachusetts are nearly identical to armed robbery charges with the exception that unarmed robbery charges do not require the use of a dangerous weapon. Although the potential penalties are the same, armed robbery charges generally result in harsher penalties.

Penalties for Unarmed Robbery under M.G.L. Chapter 265 Section 19

Pursuant to Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 265 Section 19 , a conviction for unarmed robbery charges (robbery by unarmed person) is punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for any term of years, including up to a life sentence. Alternative sentences include split sentences with a term of probation, a suspended sentence with a term of probation, or straight probation.

Some of the factors considered by the judge when imposing a sentence for a conviction on unarmed robbery charges may be whether the defendant tendered a plea deal or was found guilty at trial, the defendant’s prior criminal history, if any, and the nature and circumstances of the robbery, including whether the victim sustained any injuries.

Are Unarmed Robbery charges prosecuted in district or superior court?

In Massachusetts, unarmed robbery is a felony within the jurisdiction of the superior court. Since unarmed robbery charges cannot be prosecuted in district court in Massachusetts, a defendant charged with unarmed robbery must have their case presented to a grand jury for indictment or the prosecution can reduce, dismiss, or enter a nolle prosequi on the unarmed robbery charge(s) to stay within the jurisdiction of the district court.

In cases where the district attorney’s office does not seek an indictment, the prosecution can reduce the charges to keep the case in district court. In those situations, the Commonwealth will likely reduce the unarmed robbery charges to Larceny From a Person. However, under M.G.L. c. 266 §25 , larceny from a person is a felony that can be prosecuted in either district or superior court and it is punishable by up to five years in state prison or two and one-half years in the house or correction.

Contact Riccio Law, LLC for Massachusetts Criminal Defense Lawyer

Riccio Law, LLC offers experienced and dedicated criminal defense to individuals facing criminal charges in federal court, superior court, and district court in Massachusetts. With offices in Quincy and Attleboro, Riccio Law represents clients in Boston, the Greater Boston area, southeastern Massachusetts, and the Cape & Islands.

Attorney Anthony R. Riccio is a former prosecutor in Massachusetts who has been lead trial lawyer in over 50 criminal trials, including 35+ jury trials and a nearly 85% success rate as defense counsel. If you or a loved one is facing criminal charges in Massachusetts, contact Riccio Law at (508) 226-4500 to learn more about our services and schedule a free consultation.