Every crime in California is defined by a specific code section. Our attorneys explain the law, penalties and best defense strategies for every major crime in California.
Is Robbery a Felony?
Robbery is a felony in most states, including California. This is the case for both first-degree robbery and second-degree robbery. Both offenses carry more than a year in prison. There are also numerous sentencing enhancements, such as for armed robbery, that can increase the prison time. Because all of these offenses are felonies, the collateral consequences for a conviction are significant.
In California, there are 2 types of robbery cases:
Under California’s robbery statute, the legal definition of the crime of robbery prohibits:
The prosecutor has to prove the following elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt:
Regardless of the degree of robbery, the crime is always a felony in the state of California. It is never a misdemeanor. This makes it even more important to have a skilled criminal defense attorney to help defend against the charge.
Yes, the penalties for a conviction for first-degree robbery are higher than for second-degree robbery.
Under California criminal law, the default is second-degree robbery. All robbery offenses are in the second-degree unless:
If any of these conditions are proven by law enforcement, it is first-degree robbery.
Both first- and second-degree robbery are violent felonies in California.4
California does not have separate offenses for armed or aggravated robbery. This makes it different from most other states.
Instead, California imposes a sentencing enhancement. The enhancement covers robberies that involved a firearm or deadly weapon. It also covers robberies that hurt the victim.
The penalties of a robbery conviction depend on:
Because all convictions carry at least a year in prison, though, they are all felony-level offenses.
First-degree robbery carries up to:
If the first-degree robbery was done in an inhabited structure and with 2 or more other people, the prison sentence increases to 3, 6, or 9 years.6
Second-degree robbery carries up to:
Both degrees of robbery are subject to penalty enhancements. Under these enhancements, if the defendant:
These penalties are for each count of robbery. In California, each count stands for a victim, not for a piece of property taken.
For example: Dave punches both Sally and Frank in order to rob Sally’s purse. Dave can face 2 counts of robbery because he applied the use of force on 2 people, even though he only robbed 1 person’s property.
Because robbery is considered a violent felony, it will also count as a “strike” under California’s Three Strikes law.
These are just the penalties that are imposed by the criminal justice system. There are also the collateral consequences of having a felony on your criminal background. These can make life difficult by:
Because it is a felony, robbery is a serious crime. By establishing an attorney-client relationship with a criminal defense lawyer from a local law firm, you can raise the legal defenses necessary to combat the charge.
A former Los Angeles prosecutor, attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT). He has been featured on CNN, Good Morning America, Dr Phil, Court TV, The Today Show and Court TV. Mr Shouse has been recognized by the National Trial Lawyers as one of the Top 100 Criminal and Top 100 Civil Attorneys.
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