When one thinks of robbery, it is usually about a bank robbery, someone holding up a gas station, being mugged, etc. Though these are certainly instances of robbery, there are also other scenarios where an act as simple as taking a bag of chips or a pack of chewing gum from a store without paying for it can be considered a case of robbery.
This might happen, for example, if you decide to steal something from a shop, but are then caught by a security guard or an employee. If you react with any degree of force or threaten the person who has confronted you, for instance, by pushing them out of your way or threatening them with physical harm, you may quickly elevate a minor offense, like shoplifting, into the more serious crime of robbery.
Holding someone down and forcibly taking their wallet is also robbery. Likewise, snatching a chain from someone’s neck and running away can be considered robbery, due to the force required to break the chain from the person’s neck.
However, you don’t even have to touch someone to be found guilty of robbery. If you wave a gun in someone’s face, they give you their wallet, and you run away, you will also have committed a robbery.
California Penal Code 211
California Penal Code 211 defines robbery as taking personal property from someone against their will by force or fear, and with the intent to permanently deprive that person of that property.
Consequently, to convict you of robbery, the prosecutor has to prove that:
- You took property from someone else;
- You took this property against the persons will;
- You did so by force or fear; and
- With the intent to permanently deprive the person of that property.
Robbery is considered a much more serious crime than other types of theft crimes. What makes robbery so different from an ordinary theft is the use of violence or threat of violence. This is also what makes it a much more serious offense under the law.
The Penalties for a Robbery Conviction in California
Robbery in California can be charged as a first or second-degree offenses. First-degree robbery occurs in someone’s home and is punished by 3, 4, or 6 years in prison. Second-degree robbery encompasses all other forms of robbery and is punished by 2, 3, or 5 years in prison.
Furthermore, if you use a gun while committing the offense, you can be sentenced to an additional 10, 20, or 25 years to life in prison. What’s more, because robbery is a strike under California’s three-strikes law, you will have to serve at least 85% of your sentence before becoming eligible for parole.
Defending a Robbery Charge in California
A robbery charge is a very serious charge––one of the most serious criminal charges in the state. Nevertheless, sometimes the evidence being used to elevate a simple theft offense to a robbery does not support the more serious charge.
When this is the case, your attorney may be able to convince the prosecutor, based upon insufficient evidence or lack of witness testimony, to change and reduce the charge from a felony to a misdemeanor or to drop the charge completely.
This is why hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney is critical, whether you are simply under investigation or have been formally charged with robbery. Call The Law Offices of Bryan R. Kazarian today at 855-918-4253, or contact us here to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation with a knowledgeable and experienced California criminal defense attorney.