Robbery

California Penal Code Section 211 – Robbery

The crime of robbery is defined under California Penal Code Section 211. It’s described as taking property of another person by the use of force or fear. The force used includes any type of physical contact, such as hitting, pushing, and all other forms of contact. Using fear is typically verbal, such as threats of physical harm or other hand gestures. A common example of robbery in Los Angeles County includes the well-known scenario where someone enters a liquor store with a gun they point at the cashier while demanding all the money in the cash register. In this example, a robbery offense occurred because the suspect forced the cashier with a firearm and threats to hand over their money. For a robbery to occur, there must be a “felonious taking,” and the property only needs to be moved a short distance, but doesn’t necessarily have to be under the suspects physical control.  If a person acting under the robber’s direction, including the victim, moves the property, the element of taking is satisfied. The legal penalties for a robbery conviction can be severe, but will depend on whether you are convicted of first or second degree robbery. If you have been accused of robbery, you have much at stake and need to consult immediately with an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer at the Goldstein Law Group. We have a track record of success defending clients against robbery charges. For example, in Los Angeles Superior Court, LAX Courthouse, our client was charged with robbery after assaulting two loss prevention employees outside of Macy’s Department Store after shoplifting property. The loss prevention officers claimed our client assaulted them and caused injuries after they confronted our client when they attempted to question him about the stolen property. The prosecutor was seeking substantial jail time. However, attorney Michael Goldstein was able to negotiate a dismissal of the robbery charges, which was a serious and violent strike offense, to a less serious offense of assault with a deadly weapon. The District Attorney agreed to a sentence of community service and further reduction to a misdemeanor offense after 12 months. Let’s take a closer look at the legal definition, penalties, and defenses below.

Legal Definition of PC 211 Robbery

California Penal Code Section 211 legally defines robbery as follows:

Robbery is the felonious taking of personal property in possession of another, from their person or immediate presence against their will, which is accomplished by means of force or fear.

Under this legal definition above, you “take” another person’s property when you gain possession of it and move it some distance, even slight. It’s important to note that possession doesn’t mean to must have actual physical possession of the property. It’s sufficient just to have control over the property, which is commonly known as constructive possession. It’s also important to note a robbery offense can occur if you take another person’s property directly from the them in their immediate presence. This means the property was within their physical control and they would have been able to maintain possession of it if you had not taken it. Using “force” simply means physical force, and “fear” means a fear of injury to the victim, a family member or another person present, or their property. The final element of the crime of robbery is that when you took the property, your intent was to deprive the owner of it permanently or just long for the owner to be deprived of its value.

 Elements of a Penal Code 211 Robbery Crime

In order for the Los Angeles County prosecutor to convict you of robbery in violation of California Penal Code Section 211, they must be able to prove all the “elements of the crime” beyond any reasonable doubt, including the following:

  • You took property you didn’t own
  • The property you took was in possession of someone else
  • You took the property from the victim or their immediate presence
  • You took the property against their will or without consent
  • You used force or fear to take the property
  • Your intent was to deprive the owner possession of the property

If you are under investigation or already charged with robbery, you should remain silent and don’t answer any questions from law enforcement. Rather, contact our Los Angeles criminal defense law firm to review the details and legal options moving forward.

Legal Penalties for PC 211 Robbery

As stated above, if you are convicted of robbery in violation of California Penal Code Section 211, the legal penalties will depend of whether it’s a first degree or second degree robbery case. A first degree robbery occurs if:

  • The victim was a driver or passenger of a car, bus, taxi, or other form or transportation
  • The robbery occurred in an inhabited home
  • The robbery occurred at an ATM

If convicted of felony first degree robbery, the legal penalties include up to 6 years in a California state prison, and a fine up to $10,000. Any robbery conviction that does not meet the requirements listed above for a first degree robbery is considered a second degree robbery. The legal penalties for a second degree robbery includes up to 5 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Additionally, there are sentencing enhancements for a Penal Code 211 conviction. For example, California Penal Code Section 12022.7 for a great bodily injury which can add up to 6 years to your sentence. There is also California Penal Code Section 12022.53 “10-20-life use a gun and you’re done” which can add an additional 10 years for using a gun, 20 years if you fired a gun during a robbery, and a 25 years to life sentence if caused great bodily injury or death with a firearm during a robbery. Finally, Penal Code 211 is a violent felony and a “strike” under California’s three strike law.

Related Offenses to PC 211 Robbery

California Penal Code Section 459 – Burglary
California Penal Code Section 484 – Grand Theft
California Penal Code Section 215 – Carjacking
California Penal Code Section 207 – Kidnapping

Legal Defenses for Penal Code 211 Robbery

The Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers at our law firm can use a range of common legal defenses against your charges of robbery in violation of California Penal Code Section 211. These include:

No force or fear – In some cases, our lawyers may be able to make an argument you simply didn’t use any force or fear to obtain the property. Force or fear is one of the key elements of the crime listed above and typically what any prosecutor will attempt to focus on the secure a conviction. If we are able to cast doubt, then we may be able to convince the prosecutor to reduce the charges to a lesser offense or have your case dismissed.

Reasonable belief you owned the property – This is commonly known as the “claim of right” defense and can be used if we are able to show you had a reasonable belief the property taken belonged to you. This type of strategy applies even if your belief was mistaken in the end as long as we can show you believed it at the time of the robbery.

False accusation or mistake identity – In certain cases, our lawyers may be able to show you were falsely accused by an alleged victim with an agenda. For example, maybe the victim was seeking revenge out of anger or jealously. In other cases, we may be able to show you are a victim of mistaken identity. Perhaps the robber was wearing a mask and their testimony is unreliable. Again, casting doubt is key and if successful, you have a good chance at avoiding a robbery conviction.

Contact our Los Angeles Criminal Defense Law Firm

If you have been accused of robbery under California Penal Code Section 211, you should contact the highly experienced Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers at the Goldstein Law Group. Our record of success over many decades of practice have enabled us to develop effective defense strategies to obtain the best possible outcome on your case. Our attorneys need to closely examine the specific details in order to start planning a defense. You should never answer any questions from police without first consult with a lawyer as you might make incriminating statements. We serve clients throughout Los Angeles County from our office in Hollywood located at 1645 Vine St #809 Los Angeles, CA 90028. Contact us at 323-461-2000.

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