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If you have been cahrged with Robbery it is imperative that you recieve legal advice immediately. As a Criminal Defense Attorney with more than 13 years of experience in Criminal Law, and having represented many people charged with Robbery you are in the right place. 

Penal Code 211 California’s Robbery Law punishes the crime of taking someones elses 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 the state prison. 

But were here  to help As a Former prosecutor, and probation officer, and Criminology Instructor with more than 13 years of experience in criminal defense I have the knowlege to defend you agains these type of charges. 

Below I will address the following

The Legal Definition of Robbery in California

Legal Defenses

Penalties, Punishment, and Sentencing

Related Offenses

If after reading this article you have any questions do not hesitate to call

The legal definition of Robbery in California

In order to be Convicted of Robbery, the Prosecutore must prove the following facts (otherwises known as elements of the crime):

1. You took property that did not belong to you

2. from another persons possession or immediate presence,

3. against that persons will

4. using force or threats

5. when you took the property, you intended to deprive the owner of it permanently or such an extended period of time that the owner would be deprived of a major portion of the value or enjoyment of the property.


Robbery is whats known as a continuing offense, which means that as long as each of these elements is satisfied before the crime is completed, there is no requirement that they occur in any specific order or at the same time.

And a Robbery is only completed once the “Robber” is caught.  or has reached a place of safety. 

on a similiar note, as long as each of these elements is met the value of the property stolen is irrelevent.  It can be of any value no matter how slight.  lets take a closer look at some of the elements

That you “took” the property

1. gaining possession of the alleged victims property and

2. carrying away

“Carrying away”

“Carrying away” requires at least some movement, no matter how slight, and even if you immediately return the property you took,  that fact does not negate the robbery.

Example during an attack, Shawn (who is outside the car) reaches into the car and grabs Carrie’s purse.  He looks through it, decides not to take anything from it, and gives it back. 

Even though he gave the purse back almost immediately that fact that he moved the property slightly from the car is enough.


The alleged victim must actually or constructively possess the confiscated property in order for the offense to qualify as Penal Code 211 Robbery, he or she does not need to be the owner of the property, as long as he or she possesses the property. 

That means that the store employee or the or even a customer who is forced to give up his  property can qualify as a Robbery victim.


Immediate Presence

property in the “immiediate presence” of a person if it “is so whithin his reach, inspection, observation, or control, that he could if not overcome by violence or prevented by fear, retain possession of it.

This broad definition means that the object doesn’t necesarily have to be on the victims person but just in an area where he or she could logically control the item. 

Example in people v. webster, the defendant was convicted of robbery when he forcefully took the victims car keys in order to take the victims car. Even though the car was a quarter of a mile away, the court upheld the “immediate presence” requirement since the victim had constructive possession (that is he held the keys) and it was within such a distance that he was logically connected to it and would have controlled it if he had been able to. 

Agains the Persons Will

“Against the person will” simply means without consent, if the force or fear (discussed below) were such that is leads to the alleged victim surrendering he money or othe property this surrender must be agains the persons will

that said you can actually rob a person even if that person doesn’t actually  know tha property has been taken until after you flee.  As long as you do not affirmatively consent to the property being taken. 


When Sam arrives home, Rick (who broke in) is there, the two struggle while Sam tells Rick to leave.  Once Rick is gone Sam realizes that his girlfriends watch is missing.

Given these facts, the court stated that because Rick used force to take Sam’s watch without permission even though Sam didn’t know Rick took the watch until after he left Rick was still guilty of Robbery.


Legal Defenses to Property

If you didn’t intend to take or keep the property but only did so after you used force or fear incidental to some other purpose you aren’t guilty of Robbery. 


expample Ruben forces stephanie (who is wating at the bus stop) to get into his truck he drives off to a field and rapes her and drops her off.  when he leaves he has her purse in his car this is not robbery.  Because there is no reason to believe he intended to take her purse. 

No force or Fear

if you take someones elses property but do not use force or fear to accomplish this, you do not violate penal code 211.  You could be guilty of another theft offense. 

Claim of Right

if you rob someone but only because you have an honest belief tha the specific property you are taking rightfully belongs to you California’s robbery law does not apply to you. As long as the belief that it is honest even if unreasonable. 

Mistaken Identity

Because robberies often involve people who wear masks or other items of clothing to shield there identity, innocent people are often falsely accused of this offense.    This could be the case for a number of reasons, the most common of which includes the fact that you happen to match a description of the actual perpetrator. 

height weight etc.


False accusation

Similiarly, somoene could falsely accuse you of Robbery for a variety of reasons.  Perhaps the actual perpatrator is trying to cover up his own culpability.   Maybe an angry or jelous spouse is  trying to gain control over you.  


Strike Offense

A Robbery is a strike offense, also it is considered a violent offense which means you will be required to spend 85 percent of your time in custody before being eligible for release. 



Gerald Schwab, Jr.


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Phone: 559.441.1418