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What Is Attempted Robbery?

By Felicia Dye
Updated: Jun 04, 2024

When a person is charged with attempted robbery, he is accused of having the intention to unlawfully take property he does not own. For some reason, an actual robbery did not occur, but notable progress was made. Trying, therefore, is still considered a criminal offense and conviction is usually a felony. There are some circumstances that may aggravate such a charge, resulting in a harsher judgment.

There are generally several elements involved in an attempted robbery. To begin with, a person accused of this crime must have tried to take property that belongs to someone else without the owner's permission. That property may have been on a victim's person, such as in her hand or her pocketbook. Attempted robbery can also involve items not on but still owned by a victim, such as those in an office or in a vehicle.

Attempted robbery also tends to involve the stipulation that the accused had no intention of returning the item. If, for example, a person had a tendency to secretly take office supplies belonging to a co-worker and to return them afterward, then although there was a lack of permission granted by the owner, it does not generally constitute robbery. An unsuccessful attempt at such behavior, therefore, would not constitute attempted robbery.

To be convicted of attempted robbery, the prosecution usually must show that a person came very close to completing the crime. This is often done by highlighting the circumstances of the attempt. Generally, the reason that robbery was not fully executed is beyond the control of the person charged with the crime.

For example, a person may have entered a house with the intention to commit robbery. An alarm may have signaled police and the accused may have fled before he took anything because he saw the patrol car. In many instances, the circumstances contribute to how harshly the crime will be judged.

One common misconception about this crime is that it requires the use of weapons. In most jurisdictions, the criminal code makes no such reference when outlining the elements of the crime. The consequences are often more severe, however, if innocent people are subjected to potentially dangerous situations or if they are harmed when the crime is executed.

Conviction of attempted robbery in most places is a felony. Usually, the consequences for this crime are less severe than those that would be issued for an actual robbery. There are still significant chances that if a person is found guilty he will be incarcerated.

MyLawQuestions is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon321211 — On Feb 21, 2013

I was wondering if an attempted armed robbery can be dropped down to a misdemeanor?

By anon274852 — On Jun 13, 2012

Those are not robberies, but rather burglaries. Robbery is the taking by force or threat of same, while burglary is theft by stealth.

By kylee07drg — On Aug 03, 2011

We have a lottery going at work. Everyone puts $5 a week in a big pot at the center of the room, and we draw numbers for the winner each Friday. The pot is in the open, so no one tries to steal from it.

Due to downsizing, one employee lost his job two weeks ago. Desperate for money, he remembered the lottery pot. He waited until late Thursday night after everyone had gone home, and he broke into the building.

What he did not know was that security patrolled the building at night. A guard caught him with his hand in the pot, pulling out large wads of cash. So, not only did he lose his job; he lost his freedom for seven months when he went to prison for attempted robbery.

By OeKc05 — On Aug 02, 2011

The new lady at work befriended me right away. I soon became aware of her habit of taking things off my desk, and that ended the friendship.

At first, she would just take paper clips. This was mildly annoying, because I would have to go to the supply closet for more. However, I didn’t consider her actions stealing, because she used what she took at work. It just inconvenienced me.

However, when my personal items started coming up missing, I had to confront her. I had taken off my rings and bracelet while typing a long report, and I left my desk for just a moment. When I returned, they were gone.

She denied taking them, but I saw them in her purse. I told my boss, and he fired her. I filed charges against her for attempted robbery, because I knew that she would try it again wherever she went.

By seag47 — On Aug 01, 2011

A man tried to take my purse while I was walking down a street. He did not think my reflexes would be as fast as they were, and he was taken by surprise at how quickly I got a death grip on it.

We struggled for a moment. He realized that everyone was getting a good look at him, and fearing that someone stronger might come to my aid, he fled.

I called the police, and though I filed a report, they didn’t have a lot to go on. He had been wearing a ski mask, long sleeves, gloves, and pants, so all I could describe was his approximate height and weight. I know that if he is caught, he will go to prison for attempted robbery.

By StarJo — On Aug 01, 2011

I once had a robber in my house. I saw him coming up the driveway, and I hid in the secret room beneath the stairs. I could see through a peephole, and I called 911 when I heard him rattling the doorknob.

He broke the glass in the door. He walked in and started to lift the big screen television. Fortunately, a cop had been driving near my house when he heard about my call on his radio. Before the robber could exit the door, the cop arrived and placed him in handcuffs.

Though he had no weapon, his intentions were obvious. He served a year for attempted robbery.

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