Under California Penal Code 211, robbery is the felonious taking of personal property in the possession of another, from his person or immediate presence, and against his will, accomplished by means of force or fear. A person will typically be charged with first degree robbery if the robbery occurred in an inhabited dwelling (for example a home). All other robberies are usually charged as a second degree.
In order to be found guilty of robbery, the prosecution will need to prove all elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. The prosecution will need to prove: 1. that the property taken was not owned by the person charged, 2. the property was taken from a person or immediate presence, 3. property taken against person’s will, 4. the act must be accomplished by force or threat of force (fear).
Number of Counts
A person can be charged with multiple courts of robbery. Generally, the number of counts depends on the number of victims and NOT the number of items taken. For example, robbing two passengers of a car, but collecting only a handbag from one of the passenger, still counts as two counts of robbery. Taking a wallet and a cellphone from one victim, should be charged as one count of robbery. The value of the property taken is also irrelevant. Taking a property means gaining possession of property and moving it some distance (even for a short distance).
Property was taken from a person or immediate presence
The property must be taken from a person or from his/her immediate presence. This means that the victim does not need to be actually holding the property in his/her hands. The property only needs to be in his/her presence. This means that the victim must be in his/her physical control.
The taking must be accomplished by means of force or fear. The force can be very minimal under the California law. The force of taking the purse off the shoulder would be enough force under this statute. Alternatively, a victim must be in fear of physical injury to himself/herself or his/her relatives.
The prosecution needs to prove all elements beyond a reasonable doubt. There must be a taking of property. If you threaten someone to give you all the money they have on them, but it turns out they do not have any money, and nothing is taken, then you cannot be charged with robbery.
There must be an intent to permanently deprive a victim of his/her property. For example,. you threaten your friend with force and grab his/her hand to remove the car keys to his/her car. You do this to prevent your drunk friend from drinking and driving. Although you have taken something of value with force against your friends will, you should not be convicted of robbery. Under this scenario, you did not have intent to permanently take the keys, but only temporarily prevent your friend from driving.
If the defendant commits the robbery within an inhabited dwelling in concert with two or more other persons, the punishment is an imprisonment in the state prison for three, six, or nine years. In all cases other, the person is punished by imprisonment in the state prison for three, four, or six years.
Robbery of the second degree is punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for two, three, or five years.
Call experienced attorneys at Delicino & Vialtsin, LLP to discuss your case at 619-357-6677.
Delicino & Vialtsin, LLP answer general legal questions emailed to us on this blog. Feel free to send us YOUR question by email. Please do not email us confidential or time sensitive information, but call 619-357-6677 The answer suggested here is for general information ONLY and not to be construed as a legal advice. Further, the Q & A does not establish an attorney-client relationship with Delicino & Vialtsin, LLP. Anton Vialtsin Google+