Penal Code 211 PC - Robbery Laws in California
Robbery is defined under California Penal Code 211 PC as taking personal property in possession of someone or immediate presence, against their will, using force or fear.
The penalties are defined under Penal Code 213 PC and always depend on the type of charge and the case circumstances. PC 211 robbery is always a felony and could be a “strike” under California’s three-strikes law.
Notably, sentencing enhancements could increase the penalties, such as using a firearm.
PC 211 says, “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.”
There are two types of robbery charges, including first or second-degree. A first-degree robbery occurs when the victim is any of the following:
- A driver or passenger in a bus, taxi, or other public transportation;
- Is inside any inhabited dwelling place or residence; or
- Is using or has just finished using an ATM.
Second-degree robbery includes all other types of robbery. Let's review this law in more detail below.
What Does the Law Say?
To convict you of Penal Code 211 PC robbery, prosecutors must prove several factors called the “elements of the crime.” They are listed under California Criminal Jury Instructions 1600 as follows:
- You took property that you did not own;
- The property was in possession of someone else;
- You took the property in the victim's immediate presence;
- The property was taken against their will;
- You used force to fear to take the property or to prevent resistance;
- You intended to permanently deprive the owner of the property or long enough to deprive the owner of a portion of its value.
Notably, a robbery only occurs when you take property directly from the victim or in the immediate presence, which means within their control.
“Taking” someone's property means gaining possession and moving it some distance. “Possession” does not always mean the victim is holding the property but instead has control of it, called constructive possession.
“Immediate presence” means the property is within their physical control, and they could have kept possession if the robbery did not occur.
The “use of force” means physical force, and “fear” means any fear of an injury against the victim, another person who was present, a family member, or the victim's property.
Penal Code 212 PC says, “The fear mentioned in Section 211 may be either: (1) The fear of an unlawful injury to the person or property of the person robbed, or of any relative of his or member of his family; or, (2) The fear of an immediate and unlawful injury to the person or property of anyone in the company of the person robbed at the time of the robbery.”
What Are the Penalties for PC 211?
Robbery is a violent felony. If you get any prison time for a robbery case, you must serve that time at 85%. As noted, the PC 211 penalties will depend on whether it's a first-degree or second-degree robbery.
The penalties for a second-degree robbery include the following:
- Two, three, or five years in state prison;
- A fine of up to $10,000;
- Formal felony probation.
If a first-degree robbery occurred within an occupied dwelling and was committed in concert with at least two other individuals, called a home invasion, the penalties include three, six, or nine years in state prison.
Under Penal Code 212.5 PC, it's a first-degree robbery if the victim is a driver or passenger of a taxi, bus, subway, or similar transportation. The penalties for a PC 211 first-degree felony robbery include the following:
- Three, four, or six years in state prison;
- A fine of up to $10,000;
- Formal felony probation.
Notably, if you commit a first-degree robbery in an inhabited structure with two or more other people, the sentence can increase to three, six, or nine years in state prison.
Also, a judge can impose felony probation instead of prison time for a PC 211 robbery case, which could require the defendant to serve up to a year in the county jail and impose other conditions, such as completing community service hours.
What are the Sentencing Enhancements for PC 211?
Suppose the victim sustained a great bodily injury during the commission of the robbery crime. In that case, you could face an additional six years in prison, defined under California Penal Code 12022.7 PC, a great bodily injury enhancement.
California's “10-20-life use a gun and you're done” defined under Penal Code 12022.53 PC imposes significantly longer sentences for a defendant who uses a gun in the commission of a robbery.
For example, ten years for personally using a firearm in a robbery, 20 years for personally and deliberately firing a gun during a robbery, and 25 years to life if you cause a person great bodily injury or death with a firearm during a robbery. Penal Code 211 robbery is a violent felony in California and will count as a “strike” under the three strikes law.
What Are the Related Crimes for PC 211?
Several California offenses are related to Penal Code 211 PC robbery, including the following:
- Penal Code 215 PC - carjacking;
- Penal Code 487 PC - grand theft:
- Penal Code 484 PC - petty theft;
- Penal Code 207 PC – kidnapping;
- Penal Code 518 PC - extortion;
- Penal Code 459 PC – burglary.
How Can You Decide Whether to Fight a Robbery Case?
Many people are being charged with California Penal Code 211 PC robbery right now, and it's obviously, a grave crime because it's a strike. You serve 85% of any sentence, and you'll have it on your record for the rest of your life.
Also, there's a presumption in the law that if you're convicted of robbery, you're to go to prison – not get probation, not get a lesser charge. So, you can see, you're up against it if you're charged with robbery.
So, you want to get an attorney who has much experience. Deciding whether to go to trial is a tricky thing sometimes for people. Because first, you have to look at whether the prosecutors have the evidence to convict me.
This is sometimes difficult for people to evaluate those who have never gone to trial before and have never seen how a jury evaluates things. So, they can't figure out whether or not it makes sense for them to go to trial. So, that's one of the first things we do.
When we meet, we go through the evidence piece by piece – whether it's good or bad–and figure out how the prosecutors will present it to a potential jury and what they might think.
Then we assess what we can do to attack the evidence, what evidence we might be able to put on, and when we formulate that all together, we figure out whether or not it makes sense for you to go to trial. So, the evidence is the first critical step. Sometimes, it can go either way. But first, you've got to decide what's at stake.
In other words, if they're offering you something other than a robbery, for example, a Penal Code Section 487(c), which is grand theft person, that can be reduced to a misdemeanor later.
When people get right down to it and ask me what do you think I should do in my case. My usual answer is if you did the crime, and there's evidence against you, you probably want to let me work out a resolution for you; that way, you don't risk getting the worst possible result.
If, on the other hand, you're innocent, then under no circumstances, in my opinion, do you take a deal. We fight it all the way and try to win the case. If you're innocent, there should be some evidence that we can use to help you.
That's how I break the tie when people can't figure out exactly what to do in the case. Sometimes we use investigators. Sometimes we don't. It depends on the facts and circumstances of what we're discussing.
We want to try to get video evidence if we can if we're going to try to fight the case. So we want to look at all the evidence the prosecutors will use and see if we can attack any of that evidence. Whether it be photo lineups, live lineups, or witnesses claiming they saw a person – we have to look at everything in deciding whether to take a robbery case to try.
In the end, you've got to look at what your exposure is. For example, suppose you used a gun in the robbery. In that case, that adds additional time on the back of the sentence, so that's a scary proposition taking a chance like that to trial if the prosecutors have the evidence against you. So, what I would recommend is, if you want the best – and you should be looking for the best if you're charged with robbery – come and set up an appointment with Ron Hedding.
What Are the Defenses for PC 211?
An experienced California criminal defense lawyer could use a variety of strategies to obtain the best possible outcome on the Penal Code 211 robbery charges, which include the following:
- No force or fear used;
- Mistaken identity;
- False accusation.
Perhaps we can argue that no force or fear was used to take personal property. But, on the other hand, you were falsely accused by someone who had the motivation to lie.
To be convicted of robbery, they will have to show that you took somebody's property, and when you took it, you used force or fear. We often see people using guns that would add a special allegation where you could get up to 10 years extra in prison.
You need an attorney who knows how to defend these cases and knows how to win them if they don't have the evidence or they don't have the witnesses.
Perhaps we can negotiate with the prosecutor to get a charge other than a robbery, for example, a grand theft person – Penal Code Section 487(c) that could later be reduced to a misdemeanor.
That's not a strike, and it's not something that you're likely to get prison time for if it's handled the right way. So perhaps we can investigate the case and file any motions that will make a difference.
Perhaps nobody can identify you. Maybe you're taking property that's already yours. So, if you need the best, you've come to the right place. Pick up the phone now for a free case evaluation.
Ask for a meeting with Ron Hedding, and I will do everything I can to assist you with your robbery case. The Hedding Law Firm is located in Los Angeles, California.