Charged With Robbery In California?

[playht_listen_button]Under California Penal Code, 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.” Robbery is a violent crime that prosecutors take very seriously. If you’ve been charged with robbery, you need a legal professional to tackle the prosecutor’s case and protect your rights and liberty.


If a prosecutor has charged you with robbery, they must prove the following elements:

  1. The property taken does not belong to the defendant: The property, money, asset, or other item taken cannot be under the custody, control, or ownership of the defendant. After all, you can’t rob yourself.
  2. The property belonged to someone else: The property must belong to another individual for the taking to be considered robbery.
  3. It was taken from the owner in their immediate presence: The property taken must have been within the owner’s control. In other words, an individual cannot rob their neighbor while their neighbor is out of the country on vacation, or at home but unaware that their things are being taken – that would be theft rather than robbery. The neighbor must have their property taken from them in their presence by the individual.
  4. It was taken against the owner’s will: The owner has to be against the taking of their property. If the owner freely grants consent, whether through words, silence, or body language, then the property was not taken against their will. However, consent under duress is not consent.
  5. The defendant used force or fear: The fear used by the defendant must be of physical injury to the person, their family member, or property. This force or fear must have the end result of making it so the owner cannot prevent the defendant from taking the property.
  6. Deprivation intended forever or for a major portion of enjoyment: The defendant must have intended to take and keep the property from the owner either for the rest of their lives or for a period that would be deemed a significant deprivation of the owner’s enjoyment of the property.

Example: A man took a woman’s keys at gunpoint. He unlocked her bike from the bike rack and rode away. This is a robbery. The man took keys and the bicycle that did not belong to him but belonged to the woman. The keys and bike were taken from the woman. He used gunpoint to prevent the woman from resisting – fear of being shot made the woman comply. The man did intend to steal the woman’s bike and keep it from her either forever or for a period of time that would deprive her of the enjoyment of the bike. This is a robbery.

Degrees Of Robbery

Like any crime, robbery is divided into degrees of severity, outlined below.

First-degree robbery includes the robbery of:

  • Any person performing their duties as operator of any bus, taxi, cable car, streetcar, trackless trolley, or other vehicle for hire;
  • Any passenger on any of these vehicles;
  • Any inhabited house, vessel, floating home, trailer coach, or other inhabited building; or
  • Any person using, or who has just used, an automatic teller machine.

Second-degree robbery includes any other robbery not mentioned.


The penalties for robbery in both the first and second degree can be severe and entail both fines and prison time.

For robbery in the first degree, if the defendant acted with two or more people and robbed an inhabited home, vessel, trailer coach, or other building, they can be imprisoned for 3, 6, or 9 years.

  • In all other cases of first-degree robbery, the defendant can be imprisoned for 3, 4, or 6 years.
  • Robbery in the second degree is punishable by imprisonment for 2, 3 or 5 years.
  • For robberies in both degrees, the defendant can be fined up to $10,000 in addition to the imprisonment.

Defenses To Beat Your Robbery Charge

There are some defenses to robbery that may apply to your case. Common defenses include:

  • You had a good-faith belief that the property was yours – If you thought that the property in question was yours, there is no robbery. You can’t steal, or intend to steal, your own property.
  • You did not commit the crime – Innocence is always a defense to a crime you have been accused of.
  • You did not use force or fear – If there was no fear or force used in the taking, then there was no robbery because not all the elements are met. However, you might still be convicted of theft.
  • The property was not in the owner’s immediate control – If the owner was not present and aware of what was going on when the property was taken, then one of the elements of robbery is not met. For example, a man cannot be robbed of his watch if housekeeping comes in and takes it from the nightstand while he is in the hotel shower. This is theft, but not robbery.

California Robbery Attorneys

If you have been charged with robbery, theft or other related crimes, your best bet is to retain the services of an experienced California theft defense attorney who will aggressively fight for your rights and defend you against the charges. Robbery is a very grave offense that can have wide-ranging consequences including up to nine years’ imprisonment and serious fines. My Rights Law has extensive experience in defending the rights of California clients who have been charged with criminal offenses including robbery. We will fight relentlessly to get you the best resolution possible given your circumstances. Call (888) 702-8882 or contact us online today for a free consultation regarding your case.