Aug 16

The Third District Appellate Court in Ottawa recently ordered a new trial for a Peoria man who allegedly committed armed robbery, according to an article by the Journal Star. The appellate judges were not convinced that the Peoria man was fit to stand trial. 

In terms of background, this case traces back to April 6, 2016. On that date, the Peoria man allegedly went to a Family Dollar store and attempted to purchase some candy. At the register, this man allegedly pulled a handgun on the store clerk and stole money from the register. 

Local law enforcement responded to the incident and conducted a full investigation. Thereafter, they charged the Peoria man with armed robbery. During the ensuing trial in the circuit court, the judge relied on a written agreement that the Peoria man was fit to stand trial. Thereafter, the Peoria man received a guilty verdict and a 21-year prison sentence.

On appeal, the Third District Appellate Court determined that the circuit court judge failed to independently verify the Peoria man’s fitness to stand trial. According to the appellate decision, the circuit court judge should have independently verified the Peoria man’s fitness, instead of relying on a written agreement. 

As a result, the appellate court ordered a new trial in the Peoria County Circuit Court. Though an exact date for the new trial is unknown at this time. While the Peoria man awaits further legal proceedings, it seems relevant to explore how Illinois defines and punishes armed robbery offenses. 

How Does Illinois Define Armed Robbery?

720 ILCS 5/18-2 details the Illinois definition of armed robbery. Under this section, a standard robbery crime becomes armed robbery if the offender also:

  • Possesses a dangerous weapon that is not a firearm;
  • Possesses a firearm;
  • Discharges a firearm; or
  • Causes serious physical harm or death by discharging a firearm. 

How Does Illinois Punish Armed Robbery?

Section 18-2 also provides the Illinois punishments for armed robbery. Under this section, any person who commits armed robbery is guilty of a Class X felony. If convicted for this offense, the punishment typically includes a prison sentence between six and 30 years and fines up to $25,000. Class X felonies do not include the potential for probation under Illinois law. 

That being said, the punishment for armed robbery can become more severe based on the circumstances of the offense. If the offender:

  • Possesses a Firearm — Then the prison sentence increases by 15 years;
  • Discharges a Firearm — Then the prison sentence increases by 20 years; or
  • Causes Harm with a Firearm — Then the prison sentence increases by 25 years.

Do You Need Legal Help?

No matter what the criminal offense, all charges are serious. A sound strategy and an aggressive defense are essential for a positive outcome. To protect your rights in such situations, it is highly advisable to retain legal counsel from an experienced criminal defense attorney.

The Prior Law Firm in Bloomington, Illinois, has proven experience in matters of criminal defense. If you need legal help with criminal defense, contact us today for a free consultation. You can reach The Prior Law Firm by phone at (309) 827-4300, email at or by completing an online form.

(image courtesy of Alejo Reinoso)