If you are arrested for a criminal offense, there are many different factors that can contribute to the severity of the penalties you may be facing. Take for example the crime of robbery. Let's say you are accused of robbery. Essentially, robbery involves there being a victim present when a theft is committed. If no victim is at the scene, then the theft is classified as a burglary.
Robbery is what is known as a "wobbler." That is, in most jurisdictions, a robbery charge could be classified as either a felony or misdemeanor. And this is an extremely important distinction. You see, if you are charged with a misdemeanor robbery, you will receive, at worst, a one-year jail sentence as well as fines and restitution. On the other hand, a felony robbery charge could result in years of incarceration and costlier fines and restitution.
When determining whether to charge a suspect with felony or misdemeanor robbery, the authorities will look at the level of force used in the execution of the crime. If no force was involved, then it is more likely the robbery will be considered a misdemeanor.
However, if it is believed force played a role in the robbery, then the charges will likely be more serious and there are a number of degrees under which the crime could be classified. In fact, it is possible the authorities could include add-on charges that address the specific circumstances of the crime, such as if a weapon was involved.
If you are arrested for robbery or other such crimes of larceny, it is important to have the guidance of an experienced attorney. An attorney can act on your behalf to get the charges reduced as much as possible through a plea agreement. By doing this, you will likely be facing less serious penalties and may even be able to totally avoid time behind bars.