California robbery is codified in California Penal Code Section 211. Robbery is a felony and is punished more severely than most other theft crimes.
What is California Robbery?
Under Penal Code Section 211, a robbery is defined as “(1) the felonious taking (2) of personal property in the possession of another, (3) from his person or immediate presence, (4) against his will, (5) accomplished by means of force or fear.” All of the elements must be proven for a robbery conviction, but do not have to all happen at the same time or place. Additionally, if all elements are met, the value of the property taken is irrelevant.
- A “felonious taking” means that the defendant had to (1) gain possession of the property and (2) carry it away with (3) the intention of permanently depriving the owner of it.
- The personal property must be in the possession or constructive possession of the person it was taken from. The person does not need to be the owner of the property as long as he or she has possession of it. For example, an employee can be a victim of robbery if a defendant enters a store and demands money from the register.
- The property has to have been taken from the “immediate presence” of the alleged victim. This means that the property has to either be on the person or within their immediate reach or control.
- The property must be taken against the alleged victim’s will. Generally, this has been taken to mean that the property is taken without the person’s consent. For example, taking something from someone’s purse or house, even if the person does not notice initially, may be considered to be done without that person’s consent and therefore against their will.
- The property must also be taken by means of force or fear. Under Section 211, force must be enough to overcome the person’s resistance. Fear involves the defendant making threats to harm the person, her family or property; or making threats to people or property present during the event.
What are the penalties for a California Robbery Conviction?
Under Penal Code Section 211, robbery is a felony. However, the sentence depends on whether the conviction is for fist- or second -degree robbery.
First-degree robbery involves the most serious robbery offenses like the robbery of the driver or passengers of a commercial vehicle, robbery in an inhabited home, or robbery of a person using an ATM machine. If convicted of first -degree robbery of an inhabited building and there were at least two other people involved in committing the robbery, the sentence carries three, six, or nine years in California state prison. Convictions of other first-degree robberies carry sentences of three, four, or six years in prison.
Second-degree robberies are those that do not rise to the severity of a first-degree robbery. If convicted of second-degree robbery, the defendant faces a sentence of two, three or five years in California state prison.
Robbery is also a “strike” under the Three Strikes Law in California.
What are the defenses to California Robbery?
- Claim of right A claim of right defense argues that the defendant sincerely believed that he or she was entitled to the property. If a person believes, right or wrong, that they have a right to the property, there is no intent to steal and therefore no robbery. However, there are two limitations. The claim of right defense cannot be asserted if the defendant concealed the taking either at the time of the occurrence of after the taking had been discovered. The defense will similarly not be allowed if the property taken was illegal (drugs, guns, etc.)
- No use of force or fear If the defendant did not use force or fear to take the property, they cannot be found guilty of robbery. They may, however, be found guilty of lesser theft offenses.
- Mistaken identity Eyewitness identification is notoriously unreliable. If there is a questionable identification, the defense may challenge police identification procedures, demand another live line up, and call an identification expert at trial.
Orange County Robbery Defense at the Johnson Criminal Law Group
Our criminal defense attorney at the Johnson Criminal Law Group will provide you with experienced legal defense for robbery charges. If facing possible charges it is important to get in touch with our Orange County criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. We can be reached by phone at (949) 622-5522 or you can send us a message online today.