California Robbery Laws

In California, the definition of robbery is the taking of someone else’s property from the person’s body or immediate possession, when accomplished by force or fear. This is a felony offense, punishable by two to nine years in State Prison. To be convicted of robbery, the prosecution must prove:

1) You took property that didn’t belong to you;
2) You took property from another person’s possession or immediate presence;
3) You took the property against the person’s will;
4) You used force or fear and
5) You took the property with the intent to deprive the owner of it permanently or for such a period of time that the owner would be deprived of a major portion of the value or enjoyment of the property.

Let’s take a look at an actual case to see whether or not the elements necessary are met. A couple was robbed at gunpoint while sitting in their car. According to authorities, while sitting in the back seat of their car, they were startled when a man appeared at the window, tapped on it and pointed a gun at them. He then demanded money from them. Fearing that they would be shot, the woman opened the door and handed her purse to the man. He then ran from the scene. In this case, all five of the elements appear to have been met. The defendant did take property that didn’t belong to him. The property being the woman’s purse. He took property from another person’s possession or immediate presence. Again the purse, which she handed directly to him. He took it against her will and used fear or force to take it. And, he did intend to deprive her of her property in that he had no intention of giving it back. At least this is what we can assume based upon the immediate information.

In California, Robbery is a Felony. However, the length of your sentence depends on whether you are convicted of 1st Degree Robbery or 2nd Degree Robbery.

1st Degree Robbery carries a sentence of three to nine years in State Prison.

2nd Degree Robbery carries a sentence of two to five years in State Prison.

If there is more than one victim, as in this case, you face conviction of, and punishment for, multiple counts of robbery.

Also, this man faces the possibility of sentence enhancements, along with the above penalties. Some sentence enhancements include:

1) Great bodily injury during a robbery,
2) Robbery for the benefit of, in association with or at the direction of a criminal street gang and,
3) The use of a gun during the robbery. An additional ten years in prison can be imposed if you use a gun, twenty years for firing a gun and 25 years to life for killing or seriously injuring another person with a gun while committing the crime of robbery.

There are legal defenses to robbery. Some of the more common ones are:

1) You didn’t intend to take the property;
2) No force or fear was used;
3) Claim of Right;
4) Mistaken Identity; and
5) False Accusations.

There are a variety of situations in which these defenses can and should be used. A good Criminal Defense Attorney, specializing in Robbery will know how to use these defenses to get the best possible outcome for his client.

If you would like to know more about California Robbery Laws, contact Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney William Weinberg at his Irvine, California office at 949-474-8008 or at