Actual Case #1
In People v. Luis Chavez, Case #BA259878-01, I was successful in getting the case dismissed after the jury was deadlocked 9-3 for Guilty. This case involved 2 defendants who were alleged to be members of the infamous Maravilla Street Gang. My client was accused of being the "point man" by holding a gun while the "victim" had her jewelry stolen from her in East L.A. The DA's office filed robbery with a gang allegation and use of a gun allegation. My client was facing a mandatory 22 years in State Prison. Prior to trial, I found out that the "victim" was having sexual intercourse with several of the Sheriff deputies who patrolled the location where the alleged robbery was to have occurred at. Outcome: This and other factors which came out during the trial convinced 3 jurors to maintain their stance for an acquittal. The case was dismissed by the Deputy DA after the case was refiled. Mr. Chavez is no longer associated with any criminal street gang and he is living and working in San Bernardino California.
Actual Case #2
In Nevada v. Steve C. - Case No. C-12-282318-1, the State of Nevada claimed that my client and other motorcycle club members had kicked out a member who was a proven thief and drug user and that my client and other club members repossessed his club vest, motorcycle and club patches while they laid into him with fists and boots. This was the only case I filed for and was granted pro hac vice status in the State of Nevada as I am solely licensed in California as an attorney. Outcome: The case was ultimately dismissed.
Actual Case #3
In People v. Fredrik S - Case No. VA084416-02, the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office tried to send my client away to prison for a long time. Their allegations were that he was the trigger man in a highway robbery type case where he stole some merchandise from a paisa in the City of Bell. The D.A. filed this case against my client and another defendant claiming this alleged robbery was part of some street level master plan to rid paisas of their money and jewelry. I found a witness to the actual crime who was extremely reluctant to testify. This witness was also very hard to locate as she was a transient with no place to call home. The ironic tragedy was that the co-defendant was her son and though she testified that my client was not the trigger man the police alleged to have committed the robbery, she was forced to place her son at the scene of the crime committing the robbery. Outcome: My client was acquitted and unfortunately her son, the co-defendant, was convicted and had to serve a short stint in prison.
Under section 211 of the California Penal Code, "robbery" is defined as taking property belonging to another from the owner's immediate control and in his/her immediate presence. This must have been done against the will of the owner and by means of force or intimidation that prevented the owner from successfully resisting the seizure of his property.
The intent to take away the property from its owner by force/fear tactics must have originated before or in the midst of the seizure of the property. An "after-the-fact" formation of intent does not constitute robbery.
What Must the Prosecution Prove?
To convict you of the crime of robbery, a prosecutor must establish beyond doubt all of the following facts:
- You took possession of property that did not belong to you.
- You took it from another person's immediate control and in his/her immediate presence.
- You took it against the wishes of the owner.
- You used brute force and/or intimidation tactics to prevent the victim from successfully defending his property.
- You intended to deprive the owner of his property permanently or for an extensive enough time-period as to rob the owner of a substantial portion of the value/enjoyment of his possession.
To be convicted of robbery, you must have been "completed" the act. That is, the property must have been moved, if even a slight distance, due to the force or fear that was utilized. It is possible that this movement could occur in one of three ways:
- You physically took hold of the property.
- Fear instilled in the victim caused him/her to move it.
- A co-conspirator moved the property.
Defense Strategies Against Robbery Allegations
Four of the most common defense strategies used to defeat robbery charges are as follows:
- A Claim of Rightful Ownership: The property was yours or you honestly, though incorrectly, believed it to be rightfully yours. This defense only applies in situations where the specific item believed to be yours was "reclaimed." That is, it does not apply to seizing random pieces of property to settle a debt with the owner.
- Lack of Intention to Take/Keep the Property: If you had no intention of taking nor keeping possession of the property in question, it is not robbery. It may be you were using force or intimidation for some other purpose.
3. No Force or Fear Involved: If no physical nor psychological pressure was utilized, it is not robbery. You cannot be convicted of robbery due to the mere minimal touching and hand movements necessarily involved in taking the property into your possession. Substantial, not "incidental," force or fear must have been applied.
- False Accusation or Mistaken Identity: It may be you are the victim of a set up, framing job, or of mistaken identity. Criminals may wish to pass the blame to an innocent party, enemies may wish to satisfy a grudge by falsely accusing you, and even eyewitnesses make mistakes. Considering that the robber may well have worn a mask or committed the crime in some dimly lit location, it is not surprising if witnesses sometimes point the finger at the wrong person.
Possible Punishments for Robbery
Robbery is a felony charge, and it can often count as a "strike" on your criminal record in reference to California's "Three Strikes" legislation. Multiple strikes result in devastating effects, so it is imperative to keep even a single strike off of your record. For example, a second strike can double the a person's sentence.
There are different punishments for the crime of robbery, depending on whether it be filed as first or second degree robbery.
First degree robbery carries a sentence of 3 to 9 years in state prison. It is defined based on the location at which the robbery took place. Locations that qualify an act of robbery as 1st degree include:
- Inside of a building, particularly an inhabited building
- Inside of a boat
- Inside of a travel trailer
- In the vicinity of an ATM, while the victim is using the machine or just subsequent to his using it
Second degree robbery encompasses all crimes falling within the definition of robbery but not included in the definition of 1st degree robbery. The punishment for 2nd degree robbery is 2 to 5 years in state prison.
Five crimes closely related to robbery, which might be relevant in some robbery cases, are as follows:
- Attempted Robbery: Though the robbery was never completed, it is possible that specific intent to commit robbery existed and an attempt was made to carry it out. If so, this is a crime in itself.
- Grand Theft: If the object robbed was worth over $950 or was a car, firearm, horse, and certain other designated items, it is grand theft.
- Grand Theft Auto: If a car was stolen, it is grand theft regardless of the value of the car. Almost always, GTA is charged as a felony.
- Petty Theft: If less than $950 was stolen, it is a misdemeanor called petty theft.
- Petty Theft With Prior: If a person has been convicted and served time three times or more in the past for petty theft and certain other crimes, a new petty theft conviction will carry enhanced punishments.
The Importance of Superior Legal Representation
If you have been accused of the crime of robbery, in any of its specific forms, in the vicinity of Los Angeles, CA, do not hesitate to contact us today for a free and fully confidential legal consultation. We can discuss your case and begin to build you a strong defense. At the Law Offices of Jeff Voll, we have an abundance of experience at winning cases just like yours. Call us today at 323-467-6400, and we will be able to give immediate and continued attention to helping you in your time of legal turmoil. Click on my Results page to see all the cases I have been successful at getting dismissed.