Being charged with bank robbery means facing a serious federal crime. The FBI pours extensive resources into investigating bank robberies and the U.S. Department of Justice prosecutes them to the fullest extent of the law. If you are convicted, you could be sent to prison for 20 years or more—but it is possible to fight the charge. You need to talk to a Los Angeles bank robbery lawyer.
At the Simmrin Law Group, we have lawyers that have devoted their careers to protecting people charged with federal crimes like bank robbery. We understand what you’re up against, and we know how to attack the federal government’s evidence, present a strong defense, and get you the best outcome possible. We offer a free consultation to discuss your case and help you understand what to do next. Fill out the form to the right or call us at 310-997-4688 and get your free consultation today.
What counts as “bank robbery”?
Under the law, robbing a bank doesn’t just involve wearing a mask and pointing a gun at a teller. The federal bank robbery law, 18 U.S.C. Section 2113, prohibits nonviolent thefts as well as violent ones—from several types of financial institutions.
Specifically, Section 2113 counts all of the following as bank robbery:
- Robbery or theft: Bank robbing includes armed robbery, after-hours break-ins, and ways that “white collar” criminals get money from banks. Any type of theft from a bank is included.
- Attempted robbery or theft: The act also prohibits entering a bank, credit union or savings and loan with the intentto commit any larceny or felony affecting the financial institution. This means you can be convicted even if the theft is never completed.
- Possession: It’s also a crime to knowingly receive, possess, conceal, sell or dispose of anything that has been taken from a bank, credit union or savings and loan. This means you can be convicted of bank robbery even if you did not steal anything, as long as you receive money or property that you know was stolen from a bank.
- Associated acts:The act also imposes penalties for a range of acts connected to a bank robbery, as described in the penalties section below.
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What kinds of financial institutions count as “banks”?
U.S. attorneys are authorized to bring charges of bank robbery for thefts from several types of financial institutions:
- Banks. A bank includes any bank that is a member of the Federal Reserve system, any bank operating under U.S. laws, and any institution whose deposits are insured by the FDIC.
- Credit Unions. A “credit union” is any federal or state-chartered credit union whose accounts are insured by the National Credit Union Administration Board, as well as any federal credit union.
- Savings and Loan Associations. These include federal or state savings and loan associations whose deposits are insured by the FDIC.
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What defenses can I use against a bank robbery charge?
The FBI is tireless in investigating bank robberies, and will typically compile extensive evidence to help the prosecution win a conviction. The key to defending against a bank robbery charge is to attack the key elements the prosecution needs to prove, identifying areas where evidence is improper or insufficient. Some of the most common defenses to bank robbery charges include:
- Not enough evidence. To get a conviction, the prosecution must convince a judge or jury that a defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If your attorney can show that there is simply not enough evidence—perhaps because it is unreliable, faulty, or unclear—you should not be convicted.
- Mistaken identity. Bank robbers often wear masks or take other steps to avoid detection by security cameras or identification by people in the bank. This makes it harder for the prosecution to prove who carried out the theft. In addition, witnesses are often under duress and may not be able to accurately identify the thief. When there is doubt about the robber’s identity, the prosecution should not win.
- Police misconduct. Often, police conduct a search for evidence and use interrogation techniques. When law enforcement authorities overstep the bounds of the law, the evidence becomes inadmissible and prosecutors may be unable to meet their burden of proof.
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What are the penalties for federal bank robbery?
The federal bank robbery statute lays out the penalties for people who commit a variety of acts connected with a bank robbery. As you might expect, the penalties for bank robberies involving force or violence are harsher than the penalties for nonviolent robberies.
- Taking more than $100 from a financial institution is punishable by a fine and up to 10 years in federal prison.
- Taking $100 or less is punishable by a fine and up to one year in prison.
- Entering or attempting to enter a financial institution with the intent to any felony that affects the financial institution can carry fines, a sentence to a maximum of 20 years in prison, or both.
- Possessing or selling property that you know has been stolen from a bank also carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, a fine, or both.
- Assaulting someone or putting their life in jeopardy with a weapon while committing a bank robbery carries a sentence of up to 25 years plus fines. This includes fake weapons.
- Killing OR abducting someone while robbing a bank—or while trying to avoid being caught—carries a minimum of 10 years in prison. If the person dies, you could face life in prison or the death penalty.
These are severe penalties, and you can expect the prosecutor to be highly prepared, skilled, and armed with a mountain of evidence from the FBI. To give yourself the best possible chance of a successful defense that keeps you out of federal prison, you need an experienced federal crimes lawyer on your team—the sooner the better.
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At the Simmrin Law Group, our criminal lawyers will build an aggressive defense strategy and fight for your rights. Don’t let the feds take advantage of you. Let us give you a FREE consultation and show you how to fight your case. Fill out the form to the right or call us at 310-997-4688 and get your free consultation today.