San Diego Armed Robbery Attorney
Stephen Cline has been a criminal defense lawyer in San Diego for two decades, and he has handled all kinds of cases, including armed robbery. He knows what it takes to get charges reduced or dismissed. He understands the seriousness of the charge you are facing, and the damage a conviction could do to your life.
Call the Law Offices of Stephen Cline at (619) 235-5638 today for a free consultation about your case. It’s important that you get a lawyer working on your case as soon as possible, so don’t delay.
What is Armed Robbery?
When we think of an armed robbery, most of us think of what we’ve seen in the movies: a man in a ski mask enters a convenience store or a bank, pulls a gun and demands money before fleeing.
While that certainly fits the legal definition of armed robbery, it doesn’t always happen so blatantly.
California Penal Code Section 211 defines robbery as 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.”
The “fear” mentioned in the law involves fear of injury to the victim, a loved one or someone else at the scene of the crime. No weapon needs to be displayed. The threat of physical force is sufficient to count as robbery in California.
Under California law, drugging a person with the intent to take property from them also constitutes a use of “force” and is thus considered robbery.
Types of Armed Robbery Cases
Here are examples of different types of armed robbery cases that might occur.
- Robbing a stranger (a “stick-up”): A perpetrator spots a person walking down the street at night. The robber demands the person’s wallet and threatens to hurt him if he doesn’t comply, displaying a gun or knife. The man turns over the wallet, and the robber runs away.
- Home invasion: This type of armed robbery involves unlawfully entering someone’s home and taking items in their presence by using, or threatening to use, a weapon or physical force. Home invasion armed robberies can carry very severe sentences. If a robbery occurs in someone’s home, the charge is always first-degree robbery.
- Robbing a business: This scenario involves pulling a weapon on a bank teller, store clerk or other employee and forcing them to hand over money under threat of serious harm.
Robbery in California is divided into first-degree robbery and second-degree robbery. Both are considered serious felony charges.
First-degree robbery occurs when any of the following three things are true:
- The victim was working as a taxicab driver, train conductor or any other such driver on the job at the time
- The robbery is carried out by two or more people in a dwelling (a “home invasion”)
- The victim was using, or had just used, an ATM
Armed robberies that do not include one of these three scenarios are second-degree robbery.
Criminal Penalties for Armed Robbery in San Diego
The penalties for a robbery conviction can be severe.
First-degree robbery carries a maximum sentence of nine years behind bars and a minimum sentence of three years. For second-degree robbery, the punishment is two to five years in prison.
The penalty for armed robbery in California may be much more severe if a handgun was used during the robbery. And, of course, if a victim is hurt or killed in the course of the robbery, more serious assault or murder charges may be filed in addition to robbery.
Enhanced Penalties for a San Diego Armed Robbery
If you injure someone in the course of a robbery, you face an “enhanced penalty” that will mean more years in jail if convicted.
California has stiff penalties for gun crimes. If you are convicted of robbing someone at gunpoint, you may spend more time behind bars for using the gun than for committing the actual robbery.
- 10 years are added to a sentence if a gun is used in the commission of a crime.
- 20 years are added to a sentence if a gun was fired in the commission of a crime.
- 25 years to life in prison can be sentenced if someone is severely injured or killed during the crime.
Additionally, your criminal record will also come into play in determining your armed robbery sentence. If you have previously been convicted of robbery and are convicted again, you likely face an enhanced sentence.
Robbery is a three-strikes crime under California law. If you are convicted of such crimes three times, you may be sentenced to 25 years to life in prison as a repeat offender.
Elements of California Armed Robbery
The “elements” of any crime as specific aspects that the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt in order to convict you. It is the job of your attorney to poke holes in the prosecution’s telling of events and to protect your interests at each and every step.
In the American justice system, the burden is always on the prosecution to prove guilt by proving each element of the crime. It is never a defendant’s responsibility to prove that her or she is innocent.
These are the elements prosecutors must prove:
- You took property that did not belong to you
- You did so directly from another person, or in their immediate vicinity
- The person did not consent to you taking the property
- You used force or fear to take the property
In an armed robbery, the force or fear is typically due to a weapon, like a gun or a knife. But the simple threat of shooting someone, even if a gun is not displayed, is sufficient to sustain a robbery conviction.
Legal Defenses to San Diego Armed Robbery
An experienced criminal defense lawyer knows exactly what prosecutors must prove to convict you of armed robbery. If any one of these things cannot be proven, you won’t be convicted.
Defenses to armed robbery may include:
- It wasn’t you. The victim or other witnesses may have misidentified you. Prosecutors can’t simply prove that a crime was committed; to get a conviction, they must prove that you were the one who committed it.
- There was no force or fear. Prosecutors cannot get a robbery conviction without proving that you used force or the threat of force to take the property. Your attorney can argue that what you did was misinterpreted as force or a threat. Of course, this can only work in certain situations. (i.e., if you threaten someone with a gun, this argument can’t be made.)
- You genuinely believed the property you took was yours. Theft and robbery crimes always require the intent to deprive someone of property for personal gain. If there is no criminal intent, there is no crime to prosecute.
Before the elements of the crime come into play, however, we work to get your charge dismissed outright. We also know how to bargain cases down to lesser charges.
If it’s in the best interest of our client, we will take an armed robbery case to trial and present our defense to a jury to seek an acquittal.
Contact an Armed Robbery Attorney
Serious criminal charges call for serious criminal defense attorneys. Stephen Cline and the staff at the Law Offices of Stephen Cline focus on defending ordinary San Diegans charged with theft crimes. Every person deserves an advocate and a voice throughout the legal process.
If you or a loved one is charged with armed robbery in San Diego, call the Law Offices of Stephen Cline at (619) 235-5638 for a free, no-obligation consultation. Don’t delay. When you are charged with a serious crime like armed robbery, every minute counts.