My wife was recently talking to a Lafayette man who was robbed at gunpoint late at night in New Orleans. He later learned that the gun the robbers had used was only a BB gun. He wondered if using a less dangerous gun would prevent them from being charged with a felony.
This is a common misconception — the two defendants were most likely charged with armed robbery, which is quite definitely a felony. This is because under Louisiana law, it does not matter if the gun used to rob someone is a BB gun, or a fake gun, or unloaded. The gun is intended to frighten and coerce the victims and has created an “atmosphere of fear.”
This is the Louisiana law for armed robbery:
Rs 14:64 ” Armed robbery is the taking of anything of value belonging to another from the person of another or that is in the immediate control of another, by use of force or intimidation, while armed with a dangerous weapon.
B. Whoever commits the crime of armed robbery shall be imprisoned at hard labor for not less than ten years and for not more than ninety-nine years, without benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence.”
How Louisiana defines a “Dangerous Weapon”
The weapon does not have to be a gun for the charge to be armed robbery. Knives, broken bottles, blunt objects, and anything that can inflict great bodily harm could be considered “dangerous weapons” under Louisiana law. However, a firearm is considered to be a particularly dangerous and can add an additional 5 years of prison time.
Amount Stolen Is Not Important
Unlike other theft charges, the value of the amount taken during the robbery is not a factor for an armed robbery charge. If the victim of an armed robbery has 25 cents or $10,000 in their pocket, the charge is armed robbery regardless. This is because in Louisiana, armed robbery is considered to be a violent crime and the threat of violence exists however much is actually taken. If the victim has no money at all, the criminal charge could be attempted armed robbery, which has a penalty of 5 – 50 years in prison.
Potential Prison Sentence
A conviction of armed robbery in Louisiana carries a penalty of 10 to 99 years, with the possibility of an additional 5 years if the weapon used is a firearm. The minimum prison sentence is 10 years, but the length of the sentence can be up to 104 years, depending on many factors. These factors can include prior or pending criminal charges, if the victims were injured during the robbery, the impact of the robbery on the victim, the nature of the robbery, and the opinion of the judge.
Armed robbery is a very serious charge in Louisiana and if you are facing this criminal charge, you need to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately.