According to California law, taking another person’s property by force or by using intimidating tactics constitutes robbery. The crime always carries a felony conviction, with penalties reaching as high as nine years in prison and a fine not to exceed $10,000. However, the nine-year maximum sentence assumes a defendant did not commit any other felonies, such as assault and aggravated battery.
Because of the seriousness of robbery, anyone charged with the crime in California should contact a criminal defense attorney who understands how to defend clients.
What is California’s Legal Definition of Robbery?
For a prosecutor in California to get a conviction for robbery, the prosecutor has to prove six elements involved in the commission of the crime.
- Defendant took another person’s property
- Victim had full possession of the property at the time of the crime
- Defendant took the property while the victim was present
- Property was taken against the will of the victim
- Defendant used force or intimidation to secure stolen property
- Defendant meant to take the property for permanent possession
A defendant does not have to assume control of the stolen property for a certain length of time. For example, if a suspect forcibly took a wallet from someone, ran down the street about 100 feet, and then threw the wallet into the sewer, the prosecutor can secure a felony conviction for robbery. The reason is although the suspect did not hold on to the wallet for an extended period, the suspect intended to take the property for permanent possession.
What are the Two Degrees of Robbery in California?
California law separates robbery into first-degree and second-degree crimes. First-degree robbery is defined by at least one of the following actions:
- Robbery took place in a boat, trailer, or home that was inhabited by at least one person
- Robbery involved the driver of a bus, taxi, subway, or streetcar
- Robbery took place at an ATM
As with all forms of robbery, first-degree robbery is punishable as a felony that carries as much as a nine-year prison sentence and a fine of up to $10,000. Second-degree robbery does not include any of the three actions mentioned above. The crime covers every other type of event that involved robbery. A defendant convicted of robbery can receive a harsher prison sentence for committing one or more of the following actions:
- Caused great bodily harm
- Used a firearm
- Committed crime with at least one other person
Displaying a firearm during the commission of a robbery can tack on 10 years to a prison sentence. An extra 25 years can be added to a robbery conviction for firing a firearm during a robbery. If firing a gun caused great bodily harm, the defendant might receive a prison sentence that runs between 25 years to life.
Work with an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney
Just because you face a robbery charge does not mean the prosecution team has a slam dunk case. Remember that the prosecutor has to prove six elements of a case to get a conviction. For example, if the prosecutor cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you used force or intimidating tactics to commit a robbery, your criminal defense attorney should argue the prosecution has not met the six-element test to gain a conviction.
A skilled criminal defense lawyer examines the facts surrounding the case before poking holes in the prosecutor’s case. California criminal defense attorney Dan E. Chambers will work closely with you to determine how to build the strongest possible defense.
Contact the Chambers law Firm at 714-760-4088 to schedule a free initial consultation.