There are two types of robbery in Massachusetts. There is unarmed robbery and there is armed robbery. In order for a defendant to be convicted of any type of robbery, the defendant must have used force to take something from the victim and intended to keep the item. It seems pretty simple, but the difference between armed and unarmed robbery is the use of weapon. The much more difficult question is trying to decide what should be considered as a weapon. (picture taken by paintball-art)
At first look it may seem simple to determine what should qualify as a weapon for armed robbery. There are a lot of things that most reasonable people would agree are weapons. Some of these are the obvious weapons such as guns, knives, and explosives. These items are what most people would consider weapons. Whether these items are used in a threatening manner or not, most people would consider them dangerous items.
The second class of items may be less obvious, but most would agree that they could be used as a weapon. These items may include a brick, a piece of rope, or a screw driver. These items in themselves are not dangerous per say. Most people have bricks, rope and screw drivers lying in or outside of their houses. However, these items can be made into a weapon if a defendant holds a brick up over the victim’s head, wraps the rope around a victim’s neck or points a screw driver in the victim’s direction. Depending on the use of these items they could be considered a weapon. Most people would consider a gun on the ground a weapon, but a brick on the ground probably just a brick.
Finally, the grey area when it comes to what should qualify as a weapon when it comes to armed robbery. Should a shoe be considered a weapon? Should a defendant who is trained in martial arts fists be considered a weapon? The answer is that both a shoe and a person’s fists could be considered a weapon. A defendant can be charged with armed robbery if the defendant used a shoe in kicking the victim also known as shod foot in taking the item. The prosecutor could also argue that trained martial artists fists should also be considered as a weapon.
The idea of a weapon may seem simple at first blush, however, once you look at different scenarios what qualify as a weapon can vary. Most people would consider a defendant with explosives strapped to his chest demanding money armed robbery. The question is how many would consider a black belt karate defendant’s fists a weapon?