Articles Posted in Robbery

You might remember back ten or so years ago when flash mobs were all the rage. A large group of “conspirators” preplanned an event at a crowded venue – for example at Grand Central Station in New York City or a large mall in Los Angeles – and delighted the crowd with a choregraphed dance or impromptu theater.  Such events were a welcome respite to the hustle and bustle of the city.

We still have flash mob events, but now they are far more nefarious. Across the country, mobs – sometimes only a few people, sometimes many – are invading retail stores and grabbing the merchandise.  Southern California is one of the hotbeds for this crime. Just a few weeks ago a group of five to ten thieves took off with at least $100,000 worth of merchandise from a Gucci store in South Coast Plaza. The suspects wore hoodies and masks and after grabbing the merchandise in a matter of minutes fled on foot to waiting get-away vehicles. Fortunately, no one was injured in the robbery.

Southern California, especially Los Angeles, has been plagued with flash mob robberies.  These robberies are planned and well-organized.  The robberies are often planned online via social media or other internet communications. At one flash mob event—a robbery of a Nordstrom in Los Angeles—more than 30 people were involved. All were masked, making it harder to identify the suspects. Witnesses reported that the thieves tore the store apart, broke glass cases, and made off with more than $300,000 in merchandise.  Of the many flash mob robberies, plausibly involving hundreds of suspects, only a handful of flash mob thieves have been arrested.

Pokémon Go Crime?

If you haven’t heard by now, Pokémon Go, a geo-catching game played on a smart phone, has quickly become a phenomenon with over a million downloads in the United States since hit the market this month. Basically, gamers use their GPS to find and capture virtual creatures called Pokémon. So why is a criminal defense attorney writing about Pokémon Go? Well, when there’s a national craze, can crime be far behind?

In Missouri, four teens were arrested and charged with first-degree armed robbery after getting caught using Pokémon Go as a way to lure unsuspecting gamers to isolated areas where they were then robbed. The robbers “pokestopped” their targets—11 in all before the robbers were caught— and the victim thinking he or she was chasing after a Pokémon ended up being robbed at gunpoint instead.

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.

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A 21-year-old man was recently arrested for a September robbery after DNA linked him to the crime. This young man, along with an accomplice, is alleged to have robbed an antique store in Huntington Beach, and tied up and beat the store clerk. Investigators found DNA both within the store and on the clerk, which matched the 21 year old, suspect. A warrant for the suspect’s arrest was issued and he was arrested in Long Beach. It was also discovered that this individual has several prior arrests and a prior conviction for robbery.

Formal charges have been filed, which include second-degree robbery, assault with a firearm, criminal threats, false imprisonment and possession of firearm by a felon. In addition, felony enhancements have been added which include 4 additional charges for use of a firearm, and two additional charges for infliction of great bodily harm. Because this defendant has prior convictions, his prison time exposure is increased to additional and consecutive one-year prison terms for each prior.

What does “Felony Enhancements” mean?

In California when someone is being charged with a crime, there are a number of “enhancements” which can result in additional prison time if convicted. As it relates to this case, the enhancements are:

1. Use of a firearm during the commission of a felony – California law states that anytime a firearm is used during the commission of a felony, the prosecution can add an enhancement charge which could result in an additional 10 years to life, for each enhancement.

2. Infliction of Great Bodily Harm – If someone other than the defendant(s), is injured during a robbery, because robbery is a felony, the felony enhancement of great bodily harm can be added, resulting in additional time.

3. Prior felony convictions – When someone has prior felony convictions, prior crime enhancements may be added, which could mean an additional year for each enhancement. For prior violent felonies, the enhancement could mean an additional 5 years for each enhancement.

In this particular case, if convicted, this man will be facing prison time for the initial felonies, 40 years for the use of a firearm enhancements, 10 years for the prior felony conviction enhancements and additional time for the great bodily harm enhancements. As you can see, defending the enhancement charges is just as important as the initial charges themselves. One of the most important goals in a situation like this is to get rid of as many of the enhancements as possible. This is usually done as a plea bargain. The obvious benefit is the reduction in prison time but avoiding a Strike is equally as important. Pleading guilty to an enhancement as a result of a plea bargain may result in a lesser prison term, but in the long run, exposes the defendant to a potential third strike in the future.

Are there defenses to robbery?

Yes, Identification is a way of attacking some of the charges. Were there witnesses who came forward and did the police influence their identifications? Mistaken identity is one of the most common causes of false accusations.

DNA appears to be what is linking this suspect to this particular crime and therefore should be closely looked at by an experienced Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney. Because the crime scene is a business establishment and open to the public, the circumstances under which the defendant’s DNA came to be at the scene needs to be thoroughly investigated.

Another defense might be the possibility of a drug or alcohol addiction that is fueling such risky behavior and needs to be treated. A drug rehab program rather than jail or prison may be an option to present to the Court.

This defendant is currently being charged with 11 Felony Counts. If it is found that the defendant was in fact involved in this crime, an aggressive attorney should focus his attention on dismissing the enhancements and having as many of the charges dropped, reduced or dismissed. The focus should then shift to mitigating his client’s prison or jail time exposure regarding the remaining charges.

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Two unfortunate men standing on a street corner in Santa Ana the other day, were accosted by two suspected gang members who robbed and stabbed them.

According to the victims, a dark SUV pulled up and the passenger said, “where are you from”, a well-known prelude to an attack, called a “hit up”. If the two suspects are caught, they will be facing life in prison for attempted murder, robbery as well as multiple gang enhancements.

The two suspects will need an experienced Orange County criminal defense attorney to assist them in avoiding the worst consequences. Whether the robbery occurred in Tustin, Irvine, Newport Beach, Santa Ana or Westminster, the defendant will need a good Orange County criminal defense lawyer to assist him.

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What an orderly bank robber! A white guy walks into an Orange County bank and gives the teller a note demanding money. He gets the money, then he asks for the note back. Very neat.

There really aren’t very many details, but Tustin Police would likely get the bank’s videos showing the all the interior and exterior views to see if they can firm up a description of him or his car, if he came in one. Either way, bank robbery is a federal offense, but can be prosecuted by the Orange County District Attorney. A qualified Orange County criminal defense lawyer would attempt to have the charges prosecuted in state court, as that would lend flexibility to the outcome.

Whether the robbery occurred in Tustin, Irvine, Newport Beach, Santa Ana or Westminster, the defendant will need a good Orange County criminal defense lawyer to assist him.

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Vincent Edward Cantu, a former Pasadena officer of 8 years, was sentenced to 13 years in federal prison for two bank robberies he committed in 2008. While robbing banks, he was polite to the tellers but pointed a gun at them when demanding money. He was caught after a robbery in August of 2008 in La Habra, and once detained, admitted committing about 5 bank robberies. Because of the plea agreement, he was only charged with two bank robberies that he committed in 2008 in which he stole over $20,000.

Robbing a bank is a federal offense because banks are federally insured. Since its a federal offense, you are housed in federal prison if convicted. Bank robbers almost always get caught because banks have high tech security and surveillance systems. If you are convicted of robbing a bank, you will always get jail/prison time, have to pay restitution and be put on probation. Whether you live in Santa Ana, Ladera Ranch or Garden Grove, if you are charged with robbery, call an experienced criminal defense attorney right away to assist you.

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Matthew Thomas Dragna was arrested this week, after police found evidence that links him to a murder that occurred last month. Authorities believe that Dragna and Damon Nicholson became friends through a website and starting a relationship. On October 23, a co-worker of Nicholson found him beaten to death on his sofa. Nicholson’s laptop, computer, clothing and cell phone had been stolen. At the crime scene, there was evidence that Dragna may have been at the crime scene and there was no showing of forced entry into the home, meaning that someone close to him may have done the crime. Search warrants were issued for both Dragna’s Lake Forest home and a Santa Ana Drug Rehab center where Dragna had been staying. Dragna was arrested when some of the stolen items were found. He faces murder and robbery charges.

A felony murder is a murder done during the commission of another felony, or in furtherance of that felony. Since police think that robbery may have been the primary motive for the murder, this would likely qualify as a felony murder situation. Felony murder charges come with a sentence of life in prison. A possible defense to the murder would be a lack of intent. Whether you live in Santa Ana, Tustin or Brea, if you are charged with murder or robbery, call an experienced criminal defense attorney right away to assist you.

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Last week, four Orange County men and one Nevada man walked into a Nevada Wells Fargo bank, handed the bank manager a fake warrant and said that they had the authority to walk into the vaults and take all of the money. The bank manager refused to allow the men take the money so they handcuffed and threatened him. As the suspects were leaving, police caught the men and arrested them. The men in FBI custody include Orange County residents Jonathan Miranda-Brewster, Jonathan Gray, Brady Beach and Ryan Williams. The Nevada robbery suspect was Eric Griffin.

These men will likely be charged with attempted robbery. Robbing a bank is a federal felony since banks are federally insured. You can be prosecuted by both the FBI and federal prosecutors. It is a very serious charge that comes with prison time, fines and probation. If convicted, this counts as a strike against you and once you get three strikes, you are sent to prison for life. Whether you live in Irvine, Lake Forest or Anaheim Hills, if you are charged with attempted robbery, call an experienced criminal defense attorney right away to assist you.

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Jose Guillermo Hernandez Luna was arrested last week, after he allegedly attempted to stick up an off-duty Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputy at an ATM machine in Newport Beach. The deputy tried to shoot at the suspect but he got away. A few days later, Luna was arrested for drug possession. Before being taken to jail, officers found an article relating to the ATM incident in his possession. They found it odd that he had that article and then realized he may have been the ATM suspect that they had been looking for. Luna had also been the suspect of an auto and cell phone theft. After being questioned, they booked him on suspicion of armed robbery, drug possession and auto theft.

Luna will likely be charged with at least two felonies and a misdemeanor and will likely spend a few years in prison. An attorney can argue that just because he carried the article relating to the robbery, that does not mean he is the robber. Prosecutors will need a lot more evidence in order to prove that Luna committed these crimes. Whether you live in Santa Ana, Fullerton or Stanton, if you are charged with robbery, call an experienced criminal defense attorney to assist you.

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