Certain types of crimes are met with greater enforcement efforts and greater potential penalties than others. Crimes against a person, for example, and those involving use of a weapon, can create significant problems for defendants, even long after a conviction and long after time has been served. For this reason, it is important to do as much as possible to defend against the charges and minimize the possible consequences from the beginning.
Last summer, several incidents of armed robbery in banks and businesses occurred in four Pennsylvania counties. As a result, two men and one woman are now facing federal criminal charges. The two men are accused of actually carrying out the robberies, while the woman is accused of acting as an accomplice by covering their tracks. The two primary actors face eight counts of criminal charges in total related to robbery affecting interstate commerce, carrying a firearm during a violent crime, possessing a weapon as a convicted felon and bank robbery. The third man is charged with aiding the other two in an effort to prevent their arrest.
The charges facing these men are quite severe. The penalties include prison time of up to ten to 32 years in prison and fines of between $250,000 and $2.5 million. What many people may not understand about the criminal justice system is that the penalties of certain crimes can be increased if there are specific aggravating factors or related criminal charges. This is the case with many violent crimes, which often involve the use of a firearm.
While a criminal charge for robbery or assault is serious enough on its own, the defendant may face a much tougher road if he or she used a dangerous weapon while committing the crime. For repeat offenders with prior convictions, possession of a firearm as a convicted felon is a charge that is commonly added to the other criminal charges facing a defendant in cases involving violent crimes. By negotiating with a prosecutor and making certain concessions or pleas, some defendants may be able to reduce the number of criminal charges against them, which could result in lesser penalties.
Source: Morning Call, "Three charged in nine-day Pa. robbery spree," Peter Hall, May 8, 2014