May 5, 2000
IMPRISONMENT FOR ARMED ROBBERY
By: Benjamin H. Hardy, Research Analyst
You asked whether there is a mandatory minimum sentence for armed robbery, and what the standard sentence is for a first-time offender convicted of armed robbery.
There is a mandatory sentence of five years for robbery in the first degree when armed with a deadly weapon. The Department of Correction (DOC) does not record sentencing information on first-time offenders. Its research unit reports that for all offenders convicted of first-degree robbery armed with a deadly weapon the current mean duration of sentence is just over 10 years.
We assume that “armed robbery” refers to robbery in the first degree when armed with a deadly weapon, categorized under CGS § 53a-134(a)(2) and 53a-134(b) as a class B felony with the added provision that an offender must be sentenced to at least five years imprisonment, which may not be suspended or reduced by the court. The weapon need not be a firearm. Conviction for a class B felony generally results in a definite sentence of imprisonment for one to 20 years, a fine of up to $15,000, or both.
The law also requires a mandatory sentence if an offender committing any class A, B, or C felony uses, has and threatens to use, displays, or indicates by word or conduct that he has a firearm. If the firearm is an assault weapon, the mandatory sentence is eight years (CGS § 53-202j); if not, it is five years (CGS § 53-202k).
The law does not make distinctions with respect to first-time offenders; rather, it provides increased penalties for persistent offenders. However, there are two alternative incarceration programs. One is for offenders who are to be supervised by the Office of Adult Probation (CGS § 53a-39a). But it excludes any offender who receives a mandatory minimum sentence, as is the case with every conviction for first-degree robbery when armed with a deadly weapon. The other is a special program for male defendants age 16 to 21 (CGS § 53a-39b), one requirement of which is that the defendant has never served a term of imprisonment in an adult correctional institution. But it excludes offenders convicted of certain crimes, including first-degree robbery.
According to DOC's Susan Savage, the department does not maintain information on first-time offenders. It has data about offenders who had never previously been incarcerated, but its computer system does not have the capability to determine an average sentence for those convicted of first-degree robbery with a deadly weapon. Pei Ti Lee, of DOC's research unit, reported a mean sentence of slightly more than 10 years for all inmates currently incarcerated for first-degree robbery with a deadly weapon as a primary offense.