Robbery is already a serious offense that can land a person serious jail time if a court hands down a conviction. But committing robbery with a weapon in the state of Florida can literally be the difference between being let out of prison at a future date and never being permitted to walk free at all. Depending on whether the robber used a weapon, the state may charge the perpetrator with a higher felony count.

Florida law designates robbery committed without a firearm as a second-degree felony. The law states that a person engaging in this form of robbery cannot be carrying a firearm, a deadly weapon or any other weapon. To take one example, a person who robs a store but does not carry a gun, a knife or anything that can qualify as a weapon would likely be charged with a second-degree felony.

When a robber is carrying or utilizing a weapon, the penalty level increases. Florida law dictates that a person committing robbery with a deadly weapon shall be charged with a first-degree felony. According to state law, a person can be charged with robbery if a person is about to commit a robbery or is fleeing from a robbery attempt. So carrying a weapon at any of these points can raise the penalty level.

The difference between second and first-degree felony sentences is stark. Per FindLaw, a person found guilty of robbery in the second degree would only serve up to fifteen years in prison. However, an individual found carrying a weapon during a robbery attempt can expect a higher sentence, perhaps even life in prison. A first-degree felony can also carry a higher fine in addition to a stiffer jail sentence.

There are other factors that can increase sentences, such as whether the robbery was a home invasion. Under Florida law, a person convicted of a home invasion, regardless of whether it was committed with a weapon, could receive a life sentence. That is why a successful defense against higher degrees of robbery is crucial to being able to avoid a total loss of freedom.