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Robbery Defense Lawyer in Los Angeles

Robbery is a crime that is misunderstood by many people. The offense is defined in PC 211 as taking personal property in the possession of another person, either directly from the other person or from their immediate surroundings, against that person’s will, using force or fear to accomplish the taking.

Because robbery requires taking the property of someone else, it sounds like theft. However, because the offense involves threats, and occurs in the immediate presence of the victim, it is treated more harshly than simple theft. In fact, robbery is always a felony, as well as a “strike” under California’s 3 strikes law. And robbery is considered a violent crime, while theft is not.

The definition of robbery also has some similarities with the crime of extortion. In an extortion charge, however, the allegation is that the fear or force used compels the victims to “consent” to part with their property. In robbery, there is no consent. And robbery, where the threat is against others, only applies to the victim’s family or another person who is present. Finally, extortion includes, for example, threats to expose secrets. This likewise will not support a robbery charge.

What are the Different Classifications of Robbery?

As noted above, all robbery charges are felonies. There are nevertheless a number of different factors that will affect the seriousness of the crime, and the potential penalty if you are convicted.

First degree robbery includes:

  • Robbery of a person who is operating a common carrier such as a bus, taxi, trolley, train, etc.
  • Robbery of a passenger traveling in a bus, taxi, train, etc.
  • Robbery of a person while that person is using an automated teller machine (ATM), or immediately thereafter, while the victim is still “in the vicinity” of the ATM.
  • Robbery committed within an inhabited dwelling, including boats designed for habitation, trailers, or within an inhabited portion of any building.

All other robberies are second degree. PC 212.5.

Criminal Penalties for Robbery

As a general matter, first degree robbery is punishable by 3, 4, or 6 years in state prison. Where the robbery is within a dwelling (including boats, trailers, etc.) or a portion of a building used as a dwelling, the sentence is 3, 6, or 9 years. Second degree robbery is punishable by imprisonment for 2, 3, or 5 years. While this appears rather simple, there are a number of possible “enhancements” that may apply, depending upon the circumstances. If applicable, those enhancements could significantly increase the prison time for a defendant if convicted of robbery.

Sentencing Enhancements for Robbery

Robbery is one of many crimes, including carjacking, murder, certain sex crimes, and others, that could lead to an enhancement of your sentence under certain circumstances if you are convicted. Here are some of the enhancements that may be applicable under PC 12022.53 for armed robbery:

  • Personal use of a firearm during the commission of a robbery. Ten years (consecutive). This applies whether or not the gun is loaded or operable.
  • Intentional discharge of a firearm personally during a robbery. Twenty years (consecutive).
  • Intentional discharge of a firearm personally during a robbery causing “great bodily injury” or death. Twenty-five years to life. The phrase “great bodily injury” means a substantial or a significant injury. PC 12022.7(f).

These enhancements also apply to other principals in the robbery, if there is a firearm involved and the offense involves organized crime or a criminal street gang. Where more than one enhancement applies, the court will impose the one with the longest prison term. Finally, there are other enhancements which may be imposed, depending upon the circumstances of your case.

Defenses to California Robbery Charge

As in all criminal cases, you are entitled to a presumption of innocence, and all elements of the offense must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. In the case of robbery, there are various defenses that may apply in your case which, if applicable, could lead to a dismissal or a not guilty verdict. Potential defenses to a robbery charge include:

  • Property ownership. The property involved in the robbery was owned by you.
  • Immediate presence. The property was not taken while the alleged victim was present.
  • Force or fear. You did not use force or fear to obtain the property.
  • There was no intent to deprive the owner of possession permanently or for an extended time.

If any of the elements of the offense is lacking, you are not guilty of robbery.

Los Angeles Robbery Defense Attorney

As noted above, robbery is a serious charge. It is always a felony, and a conviction could lead to years in prison. With enhancements, a defendant could be looking at a sentence of 10 or 20 years, or even life. Given the risks, this is no time to settle for second best. At CBS Law, we represent clients charged with a wide range of criminal offenses. Call us to speak to an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer. Call CBS Law at (213) 800-8005

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