The legal definition of robbery is taking something by force from another person, usually with the threat of violence. It is Los Angeles’ most serious theft offense. Robbery is always charged as a felony and can carry anywhere from two to nine years of prison time. When certain aggravating circumstances occur, it could even result in life behind bars.
If you have been arrested for robbery, do not let this charge ruin your life. Speak with a robbery lawyer in Los Angeles today. The Simmrin Law Group is here to help you. We understand robbery cases, and we have the legal experience and knowledge to build a good defense.
What Is Considered Robbery in California?
Robbery is defined under a state law known as California Penal Code Section 211. Under that law, you are guilty of robbery if all of the following conditions are true:
- You took property that wasn’t your own
- You took it from another person in their immediate presence
- You took it against their will
- You used force or fear to take it from them
- You had the intention to take it from them permanently or long-term
It’s the element of “force or fear” that makes robbery different from other theft charges. Most robberies involve a weapon, but they can also involve simple verbal threats. Any force or threat is enough to get a crime charged as robbery, and a felony, instead of a much less serious charge.
For example, if you stole a person’s phone by picking their pocket, no force or threat was used, and you would be charged with a lesser crime. The same is true if you did it by tricking them into giving you the phone. However, if you told the victim that you would break their arm if they didn’t hand it over, it was a robbery.
Importantly, if you used a drug (or alcohol) on the person to take their property, it does count as “force,” and it does count as robbery.
What If I Was Stopped Before I Could Take Anything?
If you did not actually take anything, you cannot be convicted of robbery. Robbery is an unusual offense because you can only be guilty if the robbery was “complete.” In other words, trying to rob someone doesn’t count if you do not succeed in taking anything.
For example, a young man walks up to a woman who is walking alone. He has one hand under his jacket, tells her he has a gun and orders her to give him her purse. She hands over the bag, but at the same time, a bystander intervenes. The bystander shoves the young man and pins the arm that supposedly has a gun.
Within minutes, the police arrive, and the man gets arrested. This young man cannot be convicted of robbery because no property was actually “taken,” and the crime wasn’t complete. Rather than a robbery charge, the man would instead be charged with attempted robbery, which is a less serious charge.
If you are convicted of attempted robbery, you still face prison time. However, the maximum sentence for an attempted robbery conviction is only half as long. But you will still need a reputable robbery attorney in Los Angeles on your side.
For a free legal consultation with a robbery lawyer serving Los Angeles, call (310) 928-9347
What Are the Penalties for Robbery in California?
Penalties for robbery in the state of California can be quite severe. Robbery is always charged as a felony, and it always carries prison time. However, there are two different kinds of robbery: first-degree and second-degree.
First Degree Robbery
First-degree robbery is the more serious of the two crimes. It is defined as any of the following:
- Robbing the driver (or passenger) of a bus, taxi, etc.
- Any robbery that takes place in an inhabited structure, such as a home or trailer
- Robbing anyone near an ATM after they used it
The penalties for a first-degree robbery can include:
- Up to nine years in prison
- Fines of up to $10,000
- Pay restitution to the robbery victims
- Felony probation
Second Degree Robbery
Second-degree robbery is a lesser charge and covers any form of robbery not already listed. The potential penalties for second-degree robbery include:
- Up to five years in prison
- Fines of up to $10,000
- Pay restitution to the robbery victims
- Felony probation
Many aggravating circumstances can result in additional penalties for either a first or second-degree robbery conviction. Some of these additional penalties are:
- An additional count of robbery for each person you committed the crime against if you robbed more than one person
- An additional three to six years in prison if you caused someone to suffer “great bodily injury”
- An additional 10-20 years in prison if you used a gun in the robbery and nobody was hurt
- An additional 25 years to life in prison if you used a gun and someone was shot
When facing such serious penalties, it is important to have an experienced Los Angeles theft crimes lawyer on your side. You don’t want to gamble the rest of your life on a public defender or self-representation.
Los Angeles Robbery Lawyer Near Me (310) 928-9347
California’s “Three Strikes” Law
Under California’s “Three Strikes” sentencing law, a defendant can be sentenced to 25 years to life in prison if they are convicted of three violent or otherwise serious felonies. A charge of robbery will count as a strike against a defendant in California.
That means that if you already have two strikes against you, any robbery conviction could land you in prison for the rest of your life. The three-strikes law is highly controversial but has remained in place for over 25 years. It’s vital that those facing criminal charges are aware of this law and what it means for them.
Even if you get offered a plea deal, it might not be what you bargained for if the charge you plead guilty to counts as a strike on your record. Our robbery lawyers in Los Angeles can review the facts of your case to determine your best options.
Is Plea Bargaining an Option for a Robbery Charge?
If the case against you is too strong for your lawyer to win, a plea bargain might be your next best option. A plea bargain could mean a reduction in the length of your sentence and/or the dropping of a charge or count of offenses.
For instance, if you face three counts of robbery, your lawyer may be able to strike a deal where you will instead plead guilty to two counts of grand theft. Not only is this going to mean a lighter sentence, but you could also avoid a strike on your record as long as the grand theft charge does not involve a firearm.
District attorneys have a large workload, and getting cases cleared as quickly as possible with convictions is a favorable outcome for them. This desire for expediency often puts defendants in a good position to get a favorable plea deal.
How Can I Fight a Robbery Charge in Los Angeles?
There are legal defenses you can use, and criminal defense lawyers can and do win robbery cases all the time. Remember that the burden of proof is on the prosecution. All your lawyer must do is whittle away at their evidence until their case is unwinnable.
Some of the strongest defenses in robbery cases include:
- You thought the property was yours, or that you had a right to it, even if you were mistaken.
- You didn’t really use force or fear. A person may have been afraid if you ran up and grabbed something, but that doesn’t mean you “used fear.”
- You didn’t intend to “steal” or take the property. For example, someone attacked you, and you took their weapon away. You used “force,” and you took something, but it’s not robbery.
- You were wrongly accused. You weren’t the one who committed the robbery.
- The police violated your rights during the arrest, search, or questioning.
Any of these defenses can potentially win a robbery case. However, they will not work if you don’t have a legal professional who can investigate your case, build the evidence, and attack the other side. One robbery charge can mean the difference between freedom and life in prison. You need to talk to a robbery lawyer in L.A.
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At the Simmrin Law Group, we don’t believe the punishment for robbery is fair or balanced. Instead, we believe in defending people and helping them get the best outcome possible.
We have devoted our law firm to protecting those who have been accused, no matter the circumstances. Let us help you by giving you a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss your case and plan your defense.
Fill out the form to the right or give us a call to speak with one of our Los Angeles robbery attorneys and get started building your defense today.