In California, there are a number of different types of theft crimes. One of the most serious types of theft is robbery, which involves taking someone’s property from them through the use of force or fear. If you are convicted of felony robbery, you may be sentenced to as many as 9 years in California state prison.
There are a number of potential defenses to a robbery charge. A skilled Santa Rosa criminal defense lawyer will investigate the facts of your case, research the law, and put together a strategy that is designed to get you the best possible outcome. This may include a favorable plea deal, a complete dismissal of the charges against you, or even a not guilty verdict at trial.
Criminal attorney Amy Chapman represents individuals charged with all types of California crimes – including robbery. She aggressively advocates for each client, working hard to protect their rights and their freedom. If you have been charged with robbery, reach out to our law office to schedule a free initial consultation.
How Does California Law Define Robbery?
Robbery is a violation of California Penal Code section 211. A robbery occurs when:
- The victim had possession of personal property of some value, however slight.
- The defendant took personal property from the victim or from his or her immediate presence.
- The property was taken against the will of the victim.
- The defendant’s act was accomplished by either force or fear.
- The defendant acted with the specific intent to permanently deprive the victim of personal property.
Robbery does not need to involve a weapon. Taking money from a bank by pointing a gun at the teller is certainly a robbery. But taking money from a teller by using a fake gun or even a note is still robbery because the teller gave up the money because of fear. Some shoplifting cases turn into robberies if the shoplifter is confronted by store security and the shoplifter uses force on the security guard to try to get away with the property.
Robbery is different from other theft crimes in that it always involves the use of force or fear. If something was taken in another way – such as by trickery or fraud – then it cannot be charged as robbery.
In California, robbery is a felony offense. It may be charged as either first-degree or second-degree robbery. First-degree robbery is any robbery where:
- The victim is a driver or passenger of a bus, taxi, subway, streetcar, or similar form of transportation;
- The robbery takes place in an inhabited house, boat, or trailer; or
- The robbery takes place while or immediately after the victim uses an ATM.
Second-degree robbery is any type of robbery that does not fall within the definition of first-degree robbery.
What Are the Penalties for Robbery in California?
Robbery is one of the enumerated violent felonies, making it a strike. Robbery is punishable in state prison by either 2, 3, or 5 years. That triad increases to 3, 4, or 6 years if the offense is first-degree robbery. Robbery in concert with two or more people within an inhabited dwelling is punishable by 3, 6, or 9 years. Attempted robbery is also a violent felony punishable by 16 months, 2 years, or 3 years in state prison.
A person convicted of robbery must serve 85% of his or her prison sentence. Persons serving time in prison for robbery are not eligible for “half time.” Also, robbery is not an 1170(h) felony, which means that any non-probation sentence must be served in state prison, not county jail.
A person convicted of robbery is presumptively ineligible for a grant of probation and should be sent to state prison according to the law. However, a judge may find that there are unusual circumstances to spare a person convicted of robbery from state prison and give him or her a chance on probation.
In some situations, a California robbery conviction may include sentence enhancements for great bodily injury, 10-20-life use a gun and you’re done law (if a gun is used), or under California’s three-strikes law for serious or violent felonies. Depending on which sentencing enhancement is applied, your sentence may increase by 3 to 6 years (great bodily injury) to 25 years to life in prison.
How Can I Defend Against a Robbery Charge?
Although robbery is a serious criminal charge, there are several strategies that a seasoned Santa Rosa robbery lawyer can use to defend you. These defenses will be based on the facts of your case.
First, your attorney may argue that you didn’t use force or fear to take the property. Remember that this is a required element of a robbery charge in California. If force or fear were not used, then your lawyer may use this fact to fight back against the charges.
Second, your lawyer may put on a “claim of right” defense if you honestly believed that you have a right to the property. In California, robbery may be excused if you have a right to the property – even if that belief is mistaken or unreasonable.
Third, if you were a victim of mistaken identity or were falsely accused of the crime of robbery, your Santa Rosa robbery lawyer may introduce evidence to have the charges against you dismissed. For example, if someone accuses you of robbery to get back at you, then your attorney might be able to find witnesses to prove that you couldn’t have committed the crime.
These are just some of the possible defenses that a skilled lawyer may use to defend you against a robbery charge. Remember: robbery is a felony crime in California, and carries steep penalties. The best way to protect yourself is to hire a top-notch criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
Can a Robbery Conviction be Expunged in California?
California is one of many states that allows expungements of criminal charges in certain cases. An expungement is a process in which you may petition the court to review a conviction and consider clearing your criminal record. You may also withdraw a guilty or no contest plea and reenter a not guilty plea.
You may only apply for an expungement in California if you meet the following conditions:
- You have completed probation for the conviction.
- You did not serve time in state prison, or
- You served time in state prison, but this sentence would have been served in county jail if the crime were committed following the passing of Proposition 47.
- You do not have any other pending criminal charges.
Expungement in California is available for both misdemeanor and felony offenses, provided that the above terms are met. If you were convicted of robbery but served probation or another type of alternative sentencing, you may be eligible to have your criminal record cleared through an expungement. You can learn more by discussing your case with robbery attorney Amy Chapman.
Can You Appeal a Robbery Conviction in California?
A robbery conviction is not always the end of the case. In some situations, the defendant may have grounds for an appeal. While the specific reason for the appeal may vary, most successful appeals involve unfair trials or unreasonably harsh sentences.
When you file an appeal, you are asking the California Appellate Court to review the lower court’s decision. This is not a new trial, but a review of the previous trial for any legal errors that unfairly affected the rights of the defendant. The appellate court will review court records, the clerk’s transcript, and the arguments presented by both the prosecution and defense.
To win an appeal in California, the defendant and their lawyer must prove that an error significantly influenced the outcome of the case. Some of the most common grounds for appeal in California include:
- Insufficient evidence
- Improper admission of evidence
- Exclusion of evidence relevant to the case
- Misconduct by the prosecution
- Jury misconduct
- Abuse of discretion by the judge.
Proving that one of these errors occurred is not enough on its own. The defendant and their legal counsel must also demonstrate that it is reasonably likely that the error unfairly led to the conviction.
Other Types of Theft Crimes in California
California law recognizes several types of criminal offenses that are related to the theft of another party’s property. Depending on the circumstances of the alleged crime, the charges may range from misdemeanors to felonies. Regardless of which specific charge you face, a strong legal defense will be critical for protecting your legal rights and increasing the chances of a favorable outcome.
Here is a brief overview of the various types of California criminal charges related to taking the personal property of someone else:
- Burglary – Sometimes confused with robbery, burglary is a very different offense. Someone can be charged with burglary for allegedly entering a building with the intent of stealing property. Burglaries of private homes may count as one of three strikes under the California Three Strikes Law.
- Petty theft – Thefts of property valued at $950 or less are considered petty theft, which is a misdemeanor charge. However, those with prior petty theft convictions could face a felony charge. A first-time conviction carries penalties of up to 6 months in jail, fines, or both.
- Grand theft – Someone who steals property valued at over $950 may be charged with grand theft, which can be a misdemeanor or felony depending on the nature of the allegations. A grand theft conviction could result in up to one year in prison.
- Grand theft auto – The theft of any automobile may result in a grand theft auto charge, which can be a misdemeanor or felony based on the prosecutor’s discretion. A misdemeanor conviction carries a maximum penalty of one year in jail, while a felony could carry a three-year prison sentence. These sentences can be increased according to the value of the vehicle: one year may be added for vehicles valued at over $65,000, and two years may be added if the vehicle’s value is over $200,000.
- Embezzlement – An embezzlement charge may be filed against someone accused of misusing personal property entrusted to them or stealing goods or money. Embezzlement charges are often filed in cases where an employee is accused of stealing from their employer or an accountant is accused of stealing or misusing client funds.
- Receiving stolen property – You can be arrested for receiving stolen property in California, even if you had no part in the theft itself. If you knowingly purchase or accept stolen property, you could be charged with either a felony or a misdemeanor. The misdemeanor charge has a maximum penalty of up to one year in jail, while felonies could carry 16 months, two years, or three years in state prison.
What If I Didn’t Keep the Property That I Took from Someone?
In California, there is no magical length of time that you must keep someone’s property for it to be considered robbery. If you take someone’s wallet from them by force, and then drop it as you run away, you can still be charged with felony robbery. The key is that you had the intention of taking someone’s property for your own possession.
If you have been charged with robbery or any other theft crime, you could be facing years in California state prison. Your best course of action is to hire an experienced California criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. In Santa Rosa, call the Law Offices of Amy Chapman at (866) 880-9096.
Is Robbery Always a Felony in California?
Yes. If you are convicted of robbery in California, you will have a felony on your record. It does not matter if the property that you took has a low value, or if you did not use a gun – it will still be a felony charge.
The only way to fight back against robbery charges – and potentially avoid a felony conviction – is to hire a seasoned Santa Rosa criminal defense lawyer. Reach out to our law offices today to schedule a free consultation about your case.
What Is the Maximum Sentence I Will Get for a California Robbery Conviction?
If you are convicted of first-degree robbery in California, you will be sentenced to a maximum of 9 years in state prison and a fine of up to $10,000. However, depending on the facts of your case, you could receive a much higher prison sentence. For example, if you used a firearm during a robbery, then you could be sentenced to anywhere from an extra 10 to 25 years in prison through a sentencing enhancement.
You may also receive a higher sentence if you commit another crime at the same time that you robbed someone. For this reason, it is vital that you reach out to an aggressive Santa Rosa robbery lawyer as soon as possible to schedule a free consultation.
Charged with Robbery? We Can Help.
Anyone faced with a robbery charge needs an experienced robbery defense lawyer in Santa Rosa to fight the charges and, if necessary, convince the judge and the prosecutor to keep the accused out of state prison.
If you have been charged with robbery or any other crime, you need an attorney who will aggressively advocate for your interests. In Santa Rosa, California, call attorney Amy Chapman today at (866) 880-9096 or fill out our online contact form. Initial consultations are always free of charge.