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What’s the difference between robbery and aggravated robbery?

Don’t leave your fate in your own hands when facing robbery charges.

If you’re accused of robbery, you don’t just need an experienced criminal defense attorney—you also need to understand your charges. Ohio law breaks down robbery charges into two categories: robbery and aggravated robbery. But what’s the difference? And what are the different consequences? Understanding the difference between these two charges can affect your time spent in prison, eligibility for parole and other penalties.


The basic charge of robbery applies when a person commits or attempts to commit a theft while in possession or control of a deadly weapon, inflicting or threatening to inflict physical harm on another, or the use (or threat of immediate use) of force against another person.

Robbery is a second- or third-degree felony, punishable by eight years or more in prison depending on the circumstances. However, several factors can increase a petty theft charge to aggravated robbery, carrying with it a first-degree felony charge and more than a decade in prison.

Aggravated robbery

Aggravated robbery is a more serious felony charge with harsher penalties, including the possibility of 3-10 years in prison and fines reaching $20,000. Some factors can elevate a charge to aggravated robbery, like:

  • Displaying, brandishing or using a deadly weapon
  • Carrying a dangerous weapon
  • Causing serious physical harm during the incident
  • Taking a law enforcement officer’s weapon

Petty and grand theft

“Theft” is a very broad term in Ohio, not limited to the typical ideas of robbery or breaking and entering. Ohio classifies theft offenses based on the value of the property or services stolen, but the laws don’t stop at the dollar value.

Penalties for theft:

With property values capped at $1,000, petty theft is the least serious of your potential theft charges. Shoplifting usually falls under this category. But a conviction still carries penalties. Being convicted of this first-degree misdemeanor can land you with up to six months in jail, a maximum $1,000 fine or both.

Theft charges increase to a fifth-degree felony if:

  • the value of property or services stolen is more than $1,000, but less than $7,500
  • the property is a credit/debit card, check, or other negotiable instrument
  • the property is a vehicle license plate or temporary placard, a blank vehicle title form, or a blank form for a driver’s license

Penalties for grand theft:

If you’re being charged with a grand theft offense, you could be facing felony consequences, including years in prison and thousands of dollars in fines.

Grand theft in Ohio applies when the value of the property is more than a certain amount or particular items were stolen. Ohio law also lists several items that, if stolen, are punishable as grand theft no matter what the value. Some property that’s an automatic felony includes:

  • Credit cards, checks, bank forms, license plates, certain bulk merchandise and other financial related documents, are automatically a fifth-degree felony.
  • Motor vehicle or dangerous drug theft is automatically a fourth-degree felony.
  • Anything involving a firearm or dangerous weapon, police dog, police horse, other assistance dog, dangerous drug with prior drug abuse conviction or anhydrous ammonia would warrant a third-degree felony.

In addition to whether the theft was robbery or aggravated robbery, the value of the property stolen can also affect the case. This can range from petty theft earning up to 180 days in jail with a $1,000 fine, all the way to first-degree grand theft with a maximum 11 years in prison and a $20,000 fine.

Contact a Columbus criminal defense attorney if you’re facing robbery charges

Yavitch & Palmer’s experienced attorneys are ready to take on your robbery defense. Call our downtown Columbus office at 614-224-6142 or complete our contact form to set up an appointment. We are available days, evenings and weekends as needed.


Washington Nationals at Baltimore Orioles May 20, 2011

Click here to learn about  Stephen Palmer’s 19 years as a Columbus criminal defense attorney.

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