robbery, in law, felonious taking of property from a person against his will by threatening or committing force or violence. The injury or threat may be directed against the person robbed, his property, or the person or property of his relative or of anyone in his presence at the time of the robbery. There is no robbery unless force or fear is used to overcome resistance. Thus, surreptitiously picking a man's pocket or snatching something from him without resistance on his part is larceny, but not robbery. Robbery differs from extortion, where force or fear are used to obtain the consent of the victim. The distinction, however, is tenuous. In some states there are several degrees of robbery with graduated penalties; aggravating circumstances—e.g., the use of firearms—result in a greater penalty.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.