Robbery is the combination of two separate crimes: assault and theft. It is a crime against the person. And it is a crime against property. As such, robbery has a more serious penalty than either assault or theft alone.
Robbery in Washington, DC includes three basic elements. First, there is “force or violence, whether against resistance or by sudden or stealthy seizure or snatching, or by putting in fear.” This element is crafted to cover a whole range of different behaviors. I could push you and take your purse. I could threaten you with a weapon. I could threaten you with words. Alternatively, an aggressive or threatening demeanor alone could satisfy this element of the crime so long as my demeanor was sufficient to put you in fear for your immediate safety.
Second, there is the taking of something of value. The item needn’t have much value. In fact, the items need not have monetary value or value to anyone except to the person from whom it was taken. If I take a pen from you, that could satisfy this element of the crime.
Third, the taking needs to be either directly from the person or from the person’s possession. If I grab your purse from your hands, that is a taking from the person. If I grab the purse from next to you on a park bench, that is a taking from your possession.
Robbery in D.C. is a felony, with a penalty of 2 to 15 years imprisonment. Using a weapon to commit the theft from the person turns the offense into armed robbery. A conviction for armed robbery could increase the maximum sentence to 30 years. Depending on the nature of the prior offense and the person’s criminal history, it could also include a mandatory minimum sentence (that is, one in which the sentence cannot be suspended) of 5 or 10 years. D.C. Criminal Code 22-2801, 22-4502.