California property crimes including theft, robbery, burglary, and fraud are among the most common criminal charges filed in California. Robbery, in particular, is a felony offense that may lead to serious repercussions if you are convicted. If you're facing a robbery charge, it's important that you consult an experienced California robbery defense attorney as soon as possible. Depending on the circumstances of your case, a trusted robbery defense attorney may be able to reduce the charges or even secure a dismissal of the case altogether.
From common defenses to its legal definition under California law, here's everything you need to know about robbery charges in the Sunshine State.
What Is the Definition of Robbery in California?
Robbery is defined by California Penal Code 211 as:
“…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.”
The California Penal Code separates robbery into two distinct categories depending on the circumstances surrounding the commission of the offense. First-degree robbery occurs when the victim is robbed while inside of an inhabited structure, while using an ATM, or while in a vehicle. All other robbery offenses that aren't considered first-degree robberies are charged in the second-degree.
Differences Between Robbery and Other Theft Crimes
It's important, as well, to make the distinction between robbery, burglary, and theft, as each crime has a different definition and accompanying penalty. A robbery charge specifically punishes the act of taking someone else's property from the victim's “immediate presence” through “force or fear.” If you don't use force or fear or if the property isn't in the person's immediate presence, then the crime is simply a theft.
Burglary, on the other hand, refers to the entering of a building or property with the intent of committing a theft or a crime that would be deemed a felony. A person may be convicted of burglary even if no property is stolen or if there was no interaction between the victim and the alleged burglar.
It's important to note that when personal property is taken from the victim and only moved slightly or taken only for a temporary period of time, it's still considered robbery. On the contrary, if someone willingly gives another person their personal property, it cannot be a robbery as robbery requires that the property is taken from someone against their will.
Defenses to Robbery Charges in California
There are several methods to defending against robbery charges in California depending on the circumstances of your case. They include:
- A reasonable belief that you owned the property: This is commonly known as the “claim of right” defense and may be used if you're able to show that you had a reasonable belief the property taken belonged to you. For example, suppose you loaned your neighbor an item that they refused to return. If you decided to confront that neighbor and take the item back using force, you have a reasonable defense.
- There was no force or fear: Your attorney may argue that the incident was a theft and not a robbery because there wasn't force or fear involved. This type of strategy might convince the prosecutor to reduce your charges.
- A false accusation or mistaken identity: You may deny that anything was taken from the alleged victim. This may occur based on a mistake or a desire for the victim to cause trouble for the defendant. For example, perhaps the alleged victim lost his wallet and either assumed that the defendant took it or framed him. Similarly, you may acknowledge that a robbery occurred but challenge the evidence that you were involved.
You may also argue that the property wasn't in the victim's possession, the property wasn't taken from the victim's immediate presence, the property wasn't taken against the victim's will, or the defendant didn't intend to take the property when force was used. A Santa Barbara criminal defense lawyer may help you understand and sort out the appropriate defenses to execute based on the circumstances of your case.
Consult an Experienced Santa Barbara Robbery Defense Lawyer
If you've been charged with robbery in the state of California, keeping your record clear of a conviction is critical. The expert attorneys at the Aron Law Firm, led by William M. Aron, are dedicated to protecting you against your accusations by investigating your case in detail and building a robust defense. Our lawyers are well-versed in protecting clients from robbery charges and serve to help them avoid the consequences that stem from the alleged offense.
Our firm takes a client-centered approach and aims to make the legal process as painless as possible. To speak with a Santa Barbara robbery defense attorney, schedule a consultation by completing our contact form or calling us at (805) 618-1768.