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San Diego Robbery Attorney

In general a robbery is a combination of assault and theft, it is considered  an offense against the property and against the person in California law.  In California under the Penal Code 211, established and defined the crime of robbery, in which consist of a felonious taking of personal property in the possession of another, from his person or immediate presence, and against his/her will, accomplished by means of force or fear.

In order to prove that someone committed robbery in California, the prosecution must prove in court the following elements of the crime:

  • The defendant took property that was not his/her own.
  • The property was in the possession of the victim. 
  • The property was taken from the other person.
  • The property was taken against the victim's will.
  • The defendant used force or fear to take the property or to prevent the person from resisting.

For a better understanding let's explain with the main elements of robbery

The defendant took property that was not his/her own.

A robbery consist of taking of personal property of another from the other's person or presence, by force or intimidation, with the intention to permanently deprive him of it.  To qualified the conduct as a robbery crime, the defendant must have taken someone property without consent. Basically, a robbery is a  aggravated of theft/ larceny. Therefore, the elements are those of theft but with the additional uses of force or fear.  Since, robbery is a specific intent crime, It is important to establish that once the conduct of taking the property is complete, there is no defense that the property taken was returned or restored, even though the restoration occurs immediately.

Property must be taken from person or presence of victim

The property must be taken from some location reasonably close to the victim, but it does not need to be taken from her person. Property is in the victim's presence if it is in her vicinity. Property in other rooms of the house in which the victim is located is in her presence.  Therefore, for robbery, the property must be taken from the victim's person or from a location reasonably close to the victim.  Usually, the tangible object that was taken must be property of some intrinsic value, in which could be subject of larceny, but the specific value of the property is immaterial and irrelevant for this type of offenses.

Moreover, an agent or employee of a store or business could have possession of the business property, since they have a duty to possess and control the property, even if the property was in possession if someone temporarily, it qualifies as a property for robbery cases.  Thus, "the property must be within a person's immediate presence, 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"

Example:  Property taken from the victim's kitchen while the victim is in the bedroom is sufficient to satisfy the crime of robbery

Force or Fear necessary

For someone being convicted of robbery, the defendant must conducted the crime with the uses of force or fear. If force is used against the victim, it obviously the conduct is sufficient to overcome the victim's resistance. If threats or fears are used, the victims must be threats of immediate death or serious physical injury, a member of their family, a relative, or a person in their presence at the time, it is enough to qualify the crime. A threat to do damage to property will not suffice, with the exception of a threat to destroy the victim's dwelling house. 

The intention of the crime is to take property of another, the intent element of this offense does not include an intent to apply force against the victim or to cause the fear of the victim. "It is enough that the defendant commits a forcible act against the victim motivated by the intent to steal. In People v. Anderson (2011) 51 C.4th 989, 125 C.R.3d 408, 252 P.3d 968, defendant, stealing the victim's car, ran over and killed her. Defendant admitted hitting the victim, but claimed that it was an accident. Defendant was convicted of first degree felony murder with the special circumstance of killing during the commission of a robbery. Held,conviction affirmed. No authority exists to graft onto the crime of robbery an element of intent to cause the victim to experience force or fear. Nor does the law require that the defendant exert some quantum of force in excess of that necessary to seize the property. Here, defendant's motive for exerting the additional force was to retain the car and facilitate his escape. Thus, he committed the requisite forcible act with the requisite intent. (51 C.4th 996.)" Witkin California Criminal Law, Fourth Edition Crimes Against Property.

Force or threats must be used to obtain property or immediately retain it

The force or threats must be used either to gain possession of the property or to retain possession immediately after such possession has been accomplished.  "The defendant's intent to take the property must have been formed before or during the time he/she used force or fear. If the defendant did not form this required intent until after using the force or fear, then (he/she) did not commit robbery." CALCRIM 1600

Example: Peter reached into Rachel's pocket without Rachel's knowledge and removed her wallet.  Rachel felt the wallet slip out, turned around, and grabbed Peter as he moved away. Peter stuck Rachel, rendering her unconscious and ran.

In this case, Peter could be guilty of robbery since he used force to prevent the victim from immediately apprehending Peter and regaining the property. Therefore, it is sufficiently related to the taking requirement.


The punishment of robbery is going to vary depending if the crime was first degree or second degree.  California first degree robbery is any of the following conducts: if the victim is a driver of any type of transportation for hire, including taxi, bus, uber, lyft, cable car, trolley, metro, subway; if the robbery took place in a residence or inhabited house; if the crime of robbery took place in a bank or place that the victim was using an ATM.

Thus, first-degree robbery is punished as a felony in California, in which the punishment is going to be by felony probation, or by imprisonment in a state prison to three (3), four (4) or six (6) years; or by a fine up to ten thousand dollars ($10,000), or both imprisonment and fine. However, if the crime was committed in an inhabited place and the victims were two or more people, the imprisonment punishment could aggravated not exceeding 9 years in a state prison.

The second degree robbery constitute any robbery that does not extend the definition of first degree robbery, it is punishable as a felony penalty in California, in which consist in a punishment of felony probation, or imprisonment of two (2), three (3) or five (5) years in state prison; or a fine of up to ten thousand dollars ($10,000), or both imprisonment and fine.

Moreover, if you committed a crime with multiple victim at the same time, you could be charged of robbery for each victim, for instance, if you committed a robbery against 3 girls, you could be charged of three counts of robbery under California rules. However, if you uses force to take multiples items of just one person, you are only going to be convicted of one count of robbery.

California's three strikes law

Under the California Penal Code, section 211, robbery is considered a violent felony, this is called strike offense under California three strikes law, in which means that if someone was convicted of robbery and further you were charged with a California felony, this person is going to face twice of the normal conviction for that second crime. And if someone accumulate three felony convictions, the sentence could be imprisonment of 25 years in a state prison.

Legal Defense

A robbery as mentioned already is a felony in California, if a person is convicted with this type of crime, the crime is going to be on the person's criminal records. If you are looking for a job and the employer does a criminal background check and there a felony or misdemeanor register, it is likely that the employer won't hire someone with a criminal background.  If you have been charged with this type of crime, you should promptly look for a Lawyer. San Diego Criminal Attorney has a great deal of success defending our clients and we can help you build legal defenses that it could be used to contest these types of charges. If you would like more information, please contact our successful staff to help you with your legal problems. 

To contest the charges of robbery, San Diego Criminal Attorney would be able to use the following legal defenses, if that is the case:

  • You did not use force or fear.
  • Mistake of facts - you thought the you own the property.
  • Wrongfully accused.
  • Mistaken identity.