Robbery (PC 211):
A Theft Crime Committed with use of force or fear

California Penal Code (CPC) §211, also referred to as Robbery, makes it a crime to use threats or force to take someone else’s property against that person’s will.

Robbery is essentially a theft crime that is committed with the use of force or fear. Although considered a theft crime, Robbery is a serious charge which can lead to a long prison sentence and large fines. Robbery can be in the First degree and Second degree as well.

What does the Prosecutor need to prove to establish that a Robbery was committed?

For an accused to be found guilty of Robbery, a prosecutor must prove the following: (source)

  • That the Defendant took someone else’s property,
  • That property was in someone else’s possession,
  • The property was taken from the other person or their immediate presence,
  • The property was taken against that person’s will,
  • Force or Fear was used by the defendant take the property, and
  • The Defendant intended to commit the theft when they were using force or fear.

It is important to note, that the Defendant must have intended to take the property either before or during the time force or fear was used to take the property.

Robbery is a Felony punished in First and Second Degrees. If convicted of First Degree Robbery, you face up to nine years in state prison. If convicted of the Second Degree form, you can serve up to five years in a state prison. You also face fines of up to $10,000 or fines and a prison sentence with both forms.

What are Some Examples of Robbery?

Mugging pedestrians at gunpoint or a knife, threatening them with harm before or while they steal personal property from the people using a knife or firearm to threaten a taxi, limo, or uber driver and demanding personal property, such as money or physical items (e.g. a watch, bracelet), to permanently deprive them of those items.

What is First Degree Robbery?

First degree robbery is defined under California Penal Code Section 213 and California Penal Code Section 212.5. To summarize, First Degree Robbery is when robbery occurs while in transit (e.g. a bus, uber, lyft), in a residence where people live, at the ATM Machine. For a conviction for First Degree Robbery, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the robbery took place under these scenarios or circumstances.

What are the penalties for First degree Robbery?

If you’re convicted of the First Degree form of Robbery, you face up to nine (9) years in a state prison, a fine of up to $10,000 (ten-thousand dollars), or both a fine and jail time. If convicted of Robbery in the Second Degree, you face up to five (5) years in a state prison, a fine of up to $10,000 (ten-thousand dollars), or both a fine and jail time.

Note, however, that Robbery can be aggravated in several ways which can result in enhanced sentences. If, for example, you do something producing great bodily injury during a Robbery, you can be sentenced to an additional six (6) years in a state prison. Furthermore, if you intentionally use and fire a gun in the commission of Robbery and it produces great bodily injury, you can be sentenced to prison for life.

What is Second Degree Robbery?

California robbery in the second degree is defined by the California Penal Code as any robbery that does not meet the definition of first-degree robbery.

What are the penalties for Second Degree Robbery?

Second Degree Robbery is punished by the following felony penalties:
Felony probation; Two (2), three (3) or five (5) years in state prison; and/or
A fine of up to ten thousand dollars ($10,000)

What are the common defenses to Robbery?

The following are some common defenses to a Robbery allegation:
Defendant Truly believed that the property belonged to himself. Defendant either believed that he or she had permission to take the property or that the property was actually theirs.

No intent to take property: Defendant could have inadvertently taken property not belonging to them.

No Force or Fear used before or during the taking of personal property from another.

Accusation is False- Another possible defense in a robbery case is that the alleged victim is making it up in order to get the other person in trouble.
Victim of Mistaken Identity: Another possible defense in a robbery case is that the alleged victim is making it up in order to get the other person in trouble.

Robbery with Multiple Victims?

In California, a robbery charge is determined by the number of people or victims involved but not the count of items taken. For instance, if you are charged with one count of robbery, it means that you allegedly robbed a single person. Similarly, robbing two people at a go will get you charged with two counts of robbery. But stealing multiple items from one victim does not account to multiple charges of robbery – that is, a person will still face one count of robbery even if they stole multiple items from a single person.

Do prior convictions affect a new charge for Robbery?

It depends. If a defendant has had any prior strikes on their record, then a new charge for Robbery will have the sentencing terms increased under the California Three Strikes Law. If the Defendant used a gun in the commission of the robbery and/or caused another person to suffer great bodily injury, then their sentence will be enhanced or elevated. This means that the Defendant may serve additional time than what the sentence for Robbery dictates.

Is a robbery conviction expungeable?

An expungement under California Penal Code Section 1203.4 is a way to clean your criminal record by having your prior criminal conviction dismissed and set aside.

Both first degree robbery and second degree robbery are serious felony offenses that are punishable by prison time. If you served time in state prison, you are not eligible to have your robbery conviction expunged. If you received probation or another form of alternative sentencing in lieu of a prison sentence for your robbery conviction, you may be eligible to seek an expungement under PC 1203.4.

Regardless of the eligibility for an expungement for a Robbery conviction, our office may be able to help you find out if another form of post-conviction relief is available for you.

Can I be convicted on Multiple counts of robbery from one event?

Yes, There are two situation when a defendant can have multiple robbery charges from one occurrence or event. First scenario is when the defendant commits multiple robberies in two situations. An example of this is when the defendant commits a robbery at a jewelry store, thereafter as defendant is leaving, he or she commits robbery at the liquor store next to the jewelry store. Second, when the defendant commits a robbery on multiple victims in a single act. An example of this would be when Defendant holds up a married man and woman as they were walking and takes one’s purse and the others wallet. Here the Defendant will face a charge two different charges of Robbery.

Is a Robbery conviction a strike on my record?

Yes. Robbery is defined as a “serious felony” in the state of California. Serious felonies under California Law are subject to the Three Strikes Law.

Related Offenses..
Robbery share similarities with the:

  • Grand Theft (CPC §487(a),(d)(2)),
  • Petty Theft (CPC §488),
  • Receiving Stolen Property (CPC §496(a)),
  • Extortion (CPC §518(a)),
  • Burglary (CPC §459),
  • Kidnapping (CPC §207(a)),
  • Carjacking (CPC §215(a)),
  • Grand Theft Auto (CPC §487(d)(1)),
  • Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle (California Vehicle Code [CVC] §10851(a)), and
  • Joyriding (CPC §499(a)).
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