2021 Virginia Criminal Law Update: Robbery

The 2021 General Assembly session was one of the transformative legislative sessions in recent history in the area of criminal law.  Over the next few weeks, the criminal attorneys at Winslow, McCurry, and MacCormac will discuss some of the major changes to criminal law and procedure in the Commonwealth.  These changes will effect both charges, motions and trials, and sentencing hearings that have occurred or will occur after the law changes take effect.

In the next part of our series, we will discuss major changes to the law of Robbery in the Commonwealth.

Robbery is a common law crime, which means its definition and elements come from the law of England before the establishment of Virginia law.  The definition of robbery has remained relatively unchanged for the entire 400 years of the Commonwealth.  The penalty however, is set by the legislature.  For most of history, the penalty for robbery has been five years to life in prison.

In House Bill 1936 during the 2021 session, the legislature reclassified the penalties for robbery.  Robbery is now broken down in the following penalty structure:

  1. A robbery that causes serious bodily injury or death of the victim is a class 2 felony, punishable by 20 years to life
  2. A robbery that involves the use or display of a firearm is a class 3 felony, punishable by 5 years to 20 years
  3. A robbery that involves physical force or a deadly weapon other than a firearm is a class 5 felony, punishable by 1 year to 10 years
  4. A robbery that involves threat or intimidation without the use of a weapon is punishable by a class 6 felony, punishable by 1 to 5 years

These changes go into effect on July 1, 2021, and it is not clear in the law whether this will apply to robberies that are committed before July 1, 2021 but tried afterwards.

If you have been charged with a robbery and believe this may change the outcome of your case, contact the criminal defense attorneys at Winslow, McCurry & MacCormac.