According to the Office of the Attorney General, more than 53,000 robberies were reported in California during 2013 (the most recent year in which complete statistics are available). More than 15,000 resulted in arrests.
About 45% of reported California robberies took place on a street or sidewalk. Another 21% of robberies occurred in a business or other commercial building, while 9% were committed in residences. Bank robberies accounted for only 1.5% of all robberies. The rest took place in other settings (including parks, schools, trains, and government buildings).
Almost half of all California robberies in 2013 were committed with a weapon, and are therefore classified as armed robberies. Prosecutors like to refer to the remaining robberies as “strong-armed” robberies, which is really another way of saying “unarmed” robberies.
Almost two-thirds of armed robberies were committed with a gun. The rest involved other dangerous weapons. Knives were employed in about half of the armed robberies that did not involve a gun. Employing any object as a weapon, such as a hammer or a baseball bat, can result in an armed robbery charge when the object is used to coerce the victim into surrendering property.
An aggressive defense can make the difference between freedom and a lengthy prison sentence for a California robbery. Call (888) 250-2865 to learn how an Orange County robbery lawyer can help you build a defense against a robbery charge. We represent clients accused of robbery in Orange County, Riverside, and all Southern California courts.
Section 211 of the California Penal Code defines the crime of robbery. A robbery consists of five elements:
- The accused took property that belonged to someone else.
- The property was taken from another person’s possession and immediate presence.
- The property was taken against that person’s will.
- The accused used force or fear to take the property or to keep the other person from resisting.
- The accused intended to take the property and to keep it permanently or to deprive the property owner of its value for an extended period of time.
The accused is entitled to a “not guilty” verdict unless the prosecution can prove each of those elements beyond a reasonable doubt.
Taking property while in the immediate presence of the person who possesses the property distinguishes robbery from other property crimes, including theft or a burglary of an unoccupied home that is committed with the intent to steal. A robbery can be committed during the course of a burglary, however, if an occupied dwelling is burglarized and force is used to take property from the inhabitants.
Property is in a victim’s immediate presence if the victim controls the property and might be able to keep it by resisting. Pointing a gun at someone and saying “Go find an ATM and bring me back some money” is not a robbery because the money is not in the victim’s immediate presence. It might become a robbery, however, if the victim returns with the money and surrenders it due to a renewed threat or fear of violence.
Using or threatening force to steal property from another person is what makes robbery a crime of violence. Picking someone’s pocket is not a robbery because force or fear are not used to commit the crime.
The accused must intend to take the property at the time the accused uses or threatens force. If the accused got into a fight with someone, knocked the victim to the ground, and only then decided to take the victim’s wallet, the accused did not commit a robbery.
Taking something means gaining possession of property and then moving it, even if the distance it moves is short. If the accused points a gun at someone, says “give me your purse,” and then fails to move the purse or its contents after its owner drops it and flees, the accused did not commit a robbery.
A first-degree robbery in California is a robbery of:
- the operator of, or a passenger in, a bus, taxi, streetcar, or other specified kinds of public transportation;
- occupants of a dwelling; or
- someone who is using an ATM or who just took money from an ATM and is still near the machine.
All other California robberies are second degree robberies.
Under some circumstances, a first degree robbery carries a maximum sentence of 9 years. A second-degree robbery carries a maximum sentence of 5 years.
Armed robberies involving the use of a gun, and robberies that cause great bodily injury, subject the accused to a substantially longer maximum sentence. Robberies also count as a “strike” under California’s “three strikes” law.
Defenses to a robbery charge must be tailored to the evidence that the prosecutor will be allowed to introduce at trial. Evidence that the police acquired illegally can be challenged to prevent its use at the accused’s trial.
Potential defenses include:
- Mistaken identity
- False accusation
- No property was taken
- Lack of intent to take property at the time force was used
- Mistaken belief that the property was yours
- Property was taken without using force or threats
- The victim was not present when the property was taken
Other defenses may also be available. The best defense depends on the facts of your case. It can only be determined after a thorough investigation of the facts, including weaknesses in the prosecution’s evidence.
Skilled Defense Attorney Assistance
Representing clients accused of robbery in Orange County, Riverside County, and all Southern California courts, Randy Collins will use his years of criminal defense experience to find the defense that maximizes your chances of avoiding a serious felony conviction.
When you are facing a serious felony charge, nothing is more important than being represented by an aggressive criminal defense attorney who has earned the respect of judges and prosecutors. To discuss your defense options with an Orange County robbery attorney who was named one of Orange County’s Top Criminal Defense Attorneys, call The Law Offices of Randy Collins at (888) 250-2865 to get help today.