In California, Robbery is defined as taking the property of another person through the use of force or threat. In many cases, this can involves the use of a firearm, and armed robbery can carry far more serious criminal penalties than a robbery committed without the use of a gun. Anyone accused of this very serious criminal offense should immediately contact a San Diego armed robbery lawyer as soon as possible.
First and Second Degree Robbery
It’s worth recognizing that “armed robbery” isn’t a specific criminal charge in California, but instead an enhancement to regular robbery charges. To that end, it’s worth understanding the two levels of charges used in robbery crimes. First degree robbery involves more than one offender, the carjacking of a vehicle or when the victim is:
- a driver-for-hire, including a taxi, trolley operator, bus driver, etc.
- inside an inhabited dwelling, including a home, RV, houseboat, etc.
- using or just used an ATM
When the crime does not involve any of these unique circumstances, it is considered second-degree robbery.
First degree robbery is punishable by up to 6 years in state prison if completed alone or 9 years if it involved an accomplice. The maximum legal penalty for second degree robbery is 5 years in state prison. Factors that influence how long the sentence will be include:
- The specific details of the incident
- How much danger the victims were put in
- The value of property or money taken
- The suspect’s criminal history
- Whether other crimes took place along with the robbery, such as false imprisonment
- And more
When a armed robbery occurs in San Diego, the charges will still be filed as first or second degree, but penalty enhancements may be added under California’s 10-20-Life law if a gun was used.This law means that when a firearm has been used to commit a crime, an extra 10 years can be added to the time you would otherwise be sentenced to. When the gun was actually fired, an extra 20 years can be added. If someone has suffered from serious bodily injury or was killed, the sentence could instantly go up to life imprisonment.
Additionally, it’s worth mentioning that robbery is always considered a strike under California’s three strikes law,, whether armed or not. This means that your sentence will be doubled if you have a prior strike on your record and if you have two previous strikes on your record, you will face life imprisonment. The good news is that your San Diego armed robbery lawyer can often have the judge overlook a previous strikeable offense so you will not be subjected to the enhanced sentencing.
Fighting Armed Robbery Charges
It’s important to remember that while it can be very intimidating to be charged with something as serious as armed robbery, you can begin to fight these charges when you contact an experienced armed robbery attorney in San Diego. The right defense for every case will vary, but the process generally begins with your attorney reviewing police reports, looking at the evidence, thoroughly investigating the case, interviewing witnesses and your alibis. In some cases, the right legal defense is simply arguing the prosecution doesn’t have enough evidence.
In other cases, it’s best to attempt to prove the evidence of your alibi outweighs the evidence you were at the crime scene. Sometimes the case can come down to questioning the testimony of the witness -even if it just means arguing you didn’t have a gun and shouldn’t be subjected to enhanced penalties under the 10-20-life rule. In some cases, if the police violated your rights during the investigation, your criminal defense lawyer may be able to have the charges against you dropped altogether.
Remember that everything you say can be used against you though and it is all too common for someone to damage their own defense in an attempt to prove their innocence. This is why you should never speak with the police without first making a call to your criminal defense lawyer.
A Note About Bank Robbery
While people commonly associate armed robbery with bank robberies, it’s worth noting that bank robberies are always handled at a federal level because they all insured by the FDIC, making these crimes a federal matter that is investigated by the FBI. This also mean these charges carry much different penalties and sentence enhancements than state robbery charges.
If you have been accused of bank robbery, you need to hire someone who handles federal crimes, as not all defense lawyers offer these services. While Mr. Liss primarily handles state matters he does represent individuals on federal criminal cases as well.
If you have been accused of any type of robbery, it is critical you speak with a top criminal defense representative as soon as possible. Peter M. Liss is a top armed robbery attorney in San Diego with over 35 years experience fighting all types of theft crimes and violent felony offenses. Please call (760) 643-4050 or (858) 486-3024 to schedule a free consultation today.
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