As is the case in many states, for an individual to face the criminal charge of robbery in West Virginia, typically a victim is present. When no person is present, the offense is technically a burglary. However, several factors determine whether the crime is a felony or a misdemeanor.
In most jurisdictions, burglary is a felony, as it involves unlawful entry onto another person’s property as well as theft. According to FindLaw, robbery is a wobbler. This means it could be a felony or misdemeanor charge, depending on the following circumstances:
- Whether force was used
- If there are additional charges
- The value of pilfered items
- History of the robber
For individuals facing felony charges with enhancements, the jail term may be several years, with thousands of dollars fines and restitution. The enhanced charge of “aggravated” means that a person used force during the crime. The presence of weapons or breaking and entering may result in additional charges.
Misdemeanor or petty robbery charges may result in fines, restitution and up to one year in jail. The lesser conviction does not affect an individual's civil rights, as a felony does. The National Justice Institute reports that there are several collateral consequences of a felony conviction. While many people seem to know about losing the right to vote and purchase firearms, other issues can impact day to day life.
Certain types of businesses cannot employ anyone with a conviction, which makes finding a job challenging. A person with a felony on their record can have difficulty finding or obtaining an apartment lease. Convicted felons are not eligible for government benefits, including student loans and may lose their drivers’ license.