Robbery Laws in California - Penal Code 211 PC
The crime of robbery is defined under California Penal Code 211 as the felonious taking of personal property in possession of someone else, from their person or immediate presence, against their will, using force or fear.
Robbery charges are filed as either first-degree or second-degree, and the punishments will always vary depending on the charge type and the case details.
Robbery is always a felony and not the common theft crime “wobbler” than could be later reduced to a misdemeanor. Further, a PC 211 robbery conviction usually counts as a “strike” under California's three-strikes law.
Some sentencing enhancements could substantially increase the penalties for a robbery, such as using a firearm to commit a crime.
Numerous defense strategies could be used to obtain the best possible outcome for a Penal Code 211 robbery case, such as:
- There was no force or fear used to take the property,
- You are the victim of mistaken identity,
- The accusations are false.
Our California criminal defense attorneys are providing a legal analysis below.
What is a First-Degree Robbery?
In the prosecution of PC 211 robbery cases, one of the first factors to consider is if the case is a first or second-degree? A first-degree robbery is when the victim:
- Was a driver or passenger in a bus, taxi, or public transportation,
- Was inside an inhabited dwelling place or residence, or
- Was using or has just finished using an ATM.
Thus, a second-degree robbery would include all other forms.
What Does the Prosecutor Have to Prove for a Conviction?
The prosecutor has to prove several crucial factors in a PC 211 robbery case to obtain a conviction, which is called elements of the crime and listed under California Criminal Jury Instructions (CALCRIM 1600) that the defendant:
- Took property they didn't own,
- Property was in possession of another person,
- In the victim's immediate presence and against their will,
- Force to fear to was used take property, or
- To prevent someone from resisting,
- Intent was to deprive the owner of the property permanently, or
- Long enough to deprive the owner of a portion of its value.
What are the Legal Penalties?
The legal penalties depend on whether it's a first-degree or second-degree robbery. A California second-degree robbery carries:
- Two, three, or five years in state prison,
- A fine of up to $10,000,
- felony probation.
If a first-degree robbery occurred within an occupied dwelling and was committed with at least two other people, called a “home invasion,“ the penalties are three, six, or nine years in state prison. California first-degree robberies carry:
- Three, four, or six years in state prison
- A fine of up to $10,000,
- Formal felony probation.
A judge could impose only felony probation instead of prison time for a PC 211 robbery case but might require the defendant to serve up to a year in the county jail along with other conditions, such as community service hours.
California's great bodily injury enhancement
Suppose the victim sustained a great bodily injury during the commission of the robbery crime? In that case, a defendant could face an additional six years in prison defined under California Penal Code 12022.7, great bodily injury enhancement.
What Are the Related Crimes for PC 211 Robbery?
- Penal Code 215 PC – carjacking,
- Penal Code 487 PC – grand theft,
- Penal Code 207 PC – kidnapping,
- Penal Code 459 PC – burglary,
- Penal Code 12022.53 – use a gun and you’re done law.
What are the Best Legal Defenses for Robbery?
As noted above, there are several common legal defenses we can use on your behalf against California Penal Code 211 robbery charges, such as the property was not taken by the use of force or fear.
In robbery cases, using force or fear is often the most critical element of the crime. If the District Attorney can't prove this element, then you should be able to avoid a conviction.
Perhaps the prosecutor lacks sufficient evidence to prove the robbery case beyond a reasonable doubt. In that case, they might consider lesser charges or dismiss the case.
Perhaps you are the victim of mistaken identity or were wrongfully arrested and falsely accused. If you or a family member is under investigation or already charged with robbery under Penal Code Section 211, contact our experienced criminal defense lawyers to review all the case details and discuss legal options.
Cron, Israels & Stark is located in Los Angeles, California. Contact our firm for a free case consultation by phone or using the contact form.