the State Bar of California
the San Diego Union-Tribune
The Press-Enterprise


For many people, the term “robbery” conjures up visions of masked intruders pointing weapons at unsuspecting shopkeepers and cleaning out their cash registers. While that scenario certainly qualifies as one example of a “robbery,” there are many other instances in which a person may find themselves facing criminal robbery charges under far less egregious circumstances. In some instances, a simple shoplifting case can be quickly transformed into a serious felony robbery charge. This tends to happen in situations when a person takes merchandise from a store, is confronted by a loss prevention officer, and then attempts to push past security personnel or use any means of force or fear against them in order to escape or avoid being detained. In these cases, it doesn’t matter if the items originally taken from the store were only trivial, low cost items. If force or fear was used during any part of the taking, the prosecuting agency may elect to file felony robbery charges as opposed to a simple petty theft.

In California, robbery is always charged as a felony offense and is quite serious. The punishment for a robbery conviction itself will vary significantly, depending upon the “degree” of the offense. Robbery in the “first degree” is punishable by a custody term in the state prison between three and nine years. “First degree” robbery situations result in the following circumstances: (1) where the crime was committed against the driver or a passenger on a bus, train, taxi, etc.; (2) when the crime was committed at an inhabited structure; or (3) where the crime involved a person who just used an ATM machine and is still in close proximity to the ATM. All other robbery situations are generally deemed as robberies in the “second degree” and are punishable by a custody term in the state prison between two and five years.

The penalties can be even greater in cases where someone was injured as a result of or during the commission of the crime, when a weapon or firearm was used during the offense, and in some instances, where robbery is charged in conjunction with other related crimes. In these cases, serious sentencing enhancements may apply and can significantly increase the overall state prison exposure.

For instance, if the alleged victim suffered “great bodily injury” during the commission of the robbery offense, the prosecuting agency may elect to file a special allegation pursuant to Penal Code section 12022.7, et seq. in addition to the robbery charge itself. This allegation requires that the prosecution prove that the defendant personally inflicted substantial physical injury upon another person during the commission of the crime. If convicted of the allegation, this adds a minimum of three additional years to the custody sentence already imposed for the robbery conviction, but it could be more, depending upon the circumstances and which subdivision is alleged under Penal Code section 12022.7.

Even more serious sentencing enhancements are likely to apply in situations where a firearm was involved in the commission of a robbery offense. Penal Code section 12022.53 specifically proscribes an additional ten years in custody for personally using a firearm during the commission of a robbery, an additional twenty years for intentionally and personally firing a gun during the commission of a robbery, and an additional twenty-five years to life in custody if a person suffers great bodily injury or death with a firearm during a robbery.

It is important to note that a felony conviction for a violation of Penal Code section 211 also qualifies as a strike offense pursuant to California’s Three Strikes Law. As such, a felony conviction for robbery could have the collateral consequence of doubling the sentence for any felony convictions that may occur in the future. This is true even if probation is granted, a petition is later filed to have the underlying robbery conviction expunged pursuant to Penal Code section 1203.4, et seq., and that request is granted by the court. Robbery is a strike offense, so even if it is later expunged, it will still count as a strike for purposes of enhanced punishment in the future.

At the Law Office of Julie Ann Baldwin, APC, we understand that mistakes happen, and we firmly believe everyone is entitled to vigorous, competent and compassionate legal representation. We also understand that the criminal process can be daunting and confusing. In many cases, there are often huge discrepancies between what people think the law is, what they think the law should be, and the reality of what the law truly is. That’s why we are committed to keeping you fully informed throughout the legal process as we work to strategically develop and prepare your defense, with a keen eye toward achieving the most favorable outcome possible for you.

Remember that the legal issues relevant to your case are best identified and addressed early on by a qualified Murrieta defense lawyer. Regardless of the circumstances surrounding your case, it is imperative that you act swiftly and smartly by hiring an experienced, local attorney who is familiar with the rules, common practices and procedures, and individual prosecutors and judges in the jurisdiction where you are facing criminal charges. As a former prosecutor at the Southwest Justice Center in Murrieta, California for the better part of fifteen years, Ms. Baldwin has worked hard to establish her reputation as a trusted, knowledgeable and effective advocate and looks forward to the privilege of putting her skills and experience to work of you.

If you have already been charged or anticipate being charged with robbery in the Murrieta area, contact your Murrieta criminal defense lawyer at the Law Office of Julie Ann Baldwin, APC for your free, confidential case consultation now. Your future and your freedom deserve to be taken seriously by an experienced attorney who is committed to quality representation and compassionate advocacy, every step of the way.

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