In Whittier, robbery is a serious criminal charge that can carry a lifetime of consequences. A conviction for robbery can lead to a lengthy prison sentence and cost you thousands of dollars in fines. What's more, a conviction can make it difficult for you ever to obtain housing or employment again.
With potential penalties this severe, it is in your best interest to hire an experienced L.A. County criminal defense attorney to represent you in your robbery case. Criminal defense lawyer William S. Kroger Attorney at Law has a proven track record of defending the rights of those accused of robbery in Whittier. To discuss the merits of your case, contact William S. Kroger Attorney at Law today.
What is Robbery in Whittier, California?
The prosecutor in your case will have no leeway in how your robbery case is categorized; robbery is always charged as a felony under the California Penal Code. Generally speaking, robbery is the taking of property that doesn't belong to you from another person using intimidation, force, or fear.
Elements of the Offense of Robbery In Whittier
According to California Penal Code § 211, robbery is the “felonious taking of personal property in possession of another, from his person or immediate presence, and against his will, accomplished by means of force or fear.” This can be broken down as:
- The taking of property in possession of another
- Against the property owner's will
- By means of force or fear
Taking of Property in possession of another in Whittier
To be convicted of robbery, the prosecutor in your case must show that you took property belonging to another person. However, this must go beyond the mere theft of property that doesn't belong to you. The property in question must have been on the person of another or within their immediate vicinity.
This element exists as a distinction from crimes like burglary; robbery is a crime of violence committed in direct contact with another person. According to the California Criminal Jury Instructions, property is in the immediate presence of another if it is sufficiently within his or her physical control that he or she could keep possession of it if not prevented by force or fear
Against the property owner's will
It goes without saying that the taking of property must be done without the permission of the victim for the crime of robbery to be committed. The consent to take the property must be freely given, however. If you force someone to give you their property while threatening violence, that person has been coerced and the property was taken against the owner's will.
By means of force or fear
For a crime to be robbery, the prosecutor must show that the taking was done through use of force or fear. This distinguishes robbery from most other California theft crimes that merely require that property was taken illegally.
Force means the use of physical force to wrest away property from another person, while fear is the fear of injury. This can include the fear that harm will come to the victim, a family member, the property itself, or a third party present at the time of the robbery.
Penalties for a Robbery Conviction in Los Angeles
Under California law, you will face the potential of state prison time for a conviction of robbery. However, the length of your potential sentence depends on whether you have been charged with first-degree robbery or second-degree robbery. Both crimes are felonies under the California Penal Code, but the penalties are tougher for first-degree robbery compared to a second-degree offense.
First-Degree Robbery In Whittier
You will be charged with first-degree robbery if:
- The victim is a driver or passenger of a bus, taxi, cable car, streetcar, trackless trolley, subway, or other transportation for hire;
- The robbery takes place in an occupied residence; or
- The victim is using an ATM.
A conviction for first-degree robbery is punishable by 3, 4, or 6 years in California state prison.
The sentence would be enhanced to 3, 6, or 9 years in California state prison if you committed the robbery within an occupied residence with two or more other people. First-degree robbery also carries a maximum fine of $10,000. Consider the following example of first-degree robbery:
You are waiting outside of a bank, armed with a knife. You wait until a man walks by, approaches the ATM outside of the bank, and withdraws money. As soon as he receives the money from the ATM, you quickly approach him with your knife drawn. You demand the money he has withdrawn, and he immediately hands it to you. You run away but are arrested soon after. You took the property (the money) of another person against their will using fear (the threat of being stabbed). Because you robbed someone that had just used an ATM, you will be charged with first-degree robbery.
Second-Degree Robbery In Whittier, CA
All robberies that do not qualify as first-degree robberies are considered second-degree robberies under California law.
A conviction for second-degree robbery is punishable by 2, 3, or 5 years in California state prison. In addition, it carries a maximum penalty of up to $10,000. Consider the following example of second-degree robbery:
You are waiting outside of a bank, armed with a knife. You notice a man approaching with his wallet in his hand. Unbeknownst to you, the man intends to withdraw money from the ATM. Before he can get there, you jump in front of his path, grab the wallet from his hand, and run away with it. You are arrested soon after. You are guilty of committing robbery due to taking the property of another (the wallet) from another person against their will through the use of physical force (grabbing the wallet from his hand). Even though the man intended to use the ATM, you did not rob him immediately after he withdrew money from the ATM so you are charged with second-degree robbery.
Potential Legal Defenses in Whittier, California?
The potential punishment robbery in California is severe, but thankfully there are a variety of potential legal defenses your attorney can use to have your charges reduced or even win an acquittal at trial. Some of the most common defenses in a robbery case include:
Good Faith Belief
You have a valid legal defense if you believed in good faith that you had a right to the property. If you honestly believed the property in question belonged to you, your attorney may be able to argue your innocence based on that good faith belief. That is true even if you were mistaken in the belief that the property was your own.
Sometimes the most straightforward defense is the strongest one. People are falsely accused of crimes every day, and there are many ways in which you could be accused of a robbery you had nothing to do with. A false accusation could stem from mistaken identity, a person seeking revenge, or even a witness with a mental illness. Your attorney may be able to show the jury that you simply had nothing to do with the robbery you are accused of participating in.
No Use of Force or Fear
Every crime has elements that must be present for a jury to convict you. A critical element to the crime of robbery is the use of force or fear. Even if you meet every other element of robbery, you may have a valid if your attorney can show that you did not use physical force or the fear of harm.
The Difference between Robbery and Burglary in Whittier, California?
The criminal terms for robbery and burglary can be confused but they are very different criminal offenses. In most Whittier cases, the facts that would meet the elements of a robbery would not qualify as a burglary. The inverse is also true.
As we have discussed above, robbery is the taking of the property of another against their will through the use of force or fear. Burglary is the entering of a structure or vehicle with the intent to commit a theft or felony.
There are limited circumstances where you could be charged with both crimes. One example would be if you broke into a home with the intent to commit a theft, only to encounter the homeowner. If you then took property directly from the homeowner through the use of force or fear, you would likely be guilty of both burglary and robbery.
Hiring the right Whittier Criminal Defense Attorney
Being charged with robbery can be life-changing. But a robbery charge can be defensible, and with the right attorney, you may be able to limit the criminal consequences. In some cases, an experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to have the case against you dismissed completely. If you have been charged with robbery anywhere in Whittier, William S. Kroger Attorney at Law can help you build the strongest defense possible. William S. Kroger has spent his entire legal career defending the rights of accused all over LA County. To discuss the merits of your case with him, contact William S. Kroger Attorney at Law for a free consultation.