What are the Penalties for Robbery in California?

Robbery is an extremely serious criminal charge in the State of California. A guilty plea or conviction can land you in jail for a significant period of time and can subject you to a whole host of other penalties. If you are currently facing robbery charges in California, time is of the essence, and you should retain an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer as soon as you can.

At The Law Offices of David S. Chesley, our criminal defense attorneys will work tirelessly to help you obtain the best possible result in your criminal case. In some instances, this may mean an outright dismissal of your robbery charge. In other instances, it may mean a favorable plea deal with the prosecuting attorney or a charge reduction that would allow for a decreased criminal penalty.

If the State of California has charged you with robbery, you should contact The Law Offices of David S. Chesley today at 1-800-755-5174, or contact us online to find out more about how we can help you defend your case.

Proving Robbery Charges

In order for a court to impose a criminal penalty for robbery, the prosecution must be able to demonstrate that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. This does not mean, however, that the prosecution must prove its case 100 percent. Instead, it means that the prosecution must prove all of the elements of the robbery crime beyond a doubt which is based upon ordinary common sense and ordinary reason. Under California Penal Code 211, the prosecution must be able to prove the following legal elements – beyond a reasonable doubt – in order to obtain a conviction:

  • That the property which was taken did not belong to the defendant
  • That the property taken was in the physical possession of someone other than the defendant
  • That the property was taken from the victim while the victim was still present
  • That the property was taken from the victim against his or her will
  • That the defendant used force or threat of force to obtain the property from the victim
  • That the defendant had the specific intent to permanently deprive the true owner of his or her property (or deprive him or her of the property for a significant period of time)

If the prosecution is unable to prove one or more of these legal elements beyond a reasonable doubt, then the state cannot obtain a conviction for robbery.

Potential Penalties upon Conviction

The penalties upon sustaining a conviction for robbery depend upon a number of different factors. One of the most important factors is whether the robbery was committed in the first degree or the second degree. A first-degree robbery occurs when the alleged victim is a passenger or driver of a taxicab, bus, cable car, trackless trolley, subway, or streetcar; the robbery occur after (or while) the alleged victim uses an automatic teller machine (ATM); or the robbery occurs in an inhabited trailer, house, or boat.

A conviction for first-degree robbery in the State of California is a felony conviction. Consequently, the conviction can result in a period of formal probation; a period of incarceration lasting three, four, or six years in a state penitentiary; and/or a maximum monetary fine in the amount of $10,000. In the event the accused committed the crime of first-degree robbery in a structure that was inhabited – and committed the crime with two or more other individuals – then the potential prison sentence upon conviction will be for three, six, or nine years.

The ultimate decision about the penalty to be imposed upon conviction rests with the sentencing judge who is assigned the case.

Second-degree robbery is a less serious offense than first-degree robbery, and the potential penalties imposed upon conviction are less than for first-degree robbery. Pursuant to the California Penal Code, a second-degree robbery is any robbery which occurs in the state and which does not fit within the legal definition of first-degree robbery. A conviction for second- degree robbery can result in any of the following penalties:

  • A period of felony probation
  • A period of incarceration in state prison lasting for two, three, or five years
  • A maximum monetary fine of $10,000 which the defendant must pay

Again, the sentencing judge ultimately determines the penalty upon conviction.

Robbery Penalty Enhancements

Along with the potential penalties listed above, a robbery conviction can result in various sentence enhancements. One such sentence enhancement is for “great bodily injury.” In other words, if you cause the alleged victim to experience great bodily injury during the commission of a robbery, a judge could tack an additional three to six years onto your criminal sentence. Moreover, if you used a gun to commit the robbery offense, you can receive any one of the following penalties:

  • An additional ten years’ incarceration for using a firearm during the commission of the robbery
  • An additional 20 years’ incarceration if you intentionally fire a gun during the commission of a robbery
  • An additional 25 years’ incarceration for causing the alleged victim to suffer death or grievous bodily injury using a firearm during the commission of the robbery

The “Three Strikes Law” in California

California employs a “three strikes law” when it comes to robbery charges. This is because, under the California Penal Code, robbery is deemed a violent felony. Consequently, if you already have a robbery conviction on your criminal record and you later sustain a charge for any felony in the State of California, you will be subject to two times the standard criminal sentence imposed for committing that felony.

Moreover, if you incur a total of three of these “strike” convictions, one of which may be a robbery conviction under the California Penal Code, a court can impose a sentence of 25 years’ incarceration to life in prison.

Potential Defenses to a Robbery Charge

In some cases, you may be able to raise a valid legal defense to your robbery charge. When that happens, the prosecutor may not process or dismiss your criminal charge, along with your entire criminal case. If that happens, you will not face any criminal penalties for your charge. Potential defenses to the crime of robbery in California include the following:

  • The defendant did not use force or threat of force to commit the crime.
  • The defendant harbored an honest belief that he or she was entitled to the property in question.
  • The defendant was mistakenly identified, and it was someone else who actually committed the crime.
  • The defendant was falsely accused by someone of committing the crime.

Call Us Today to Speak with a California Criminal Defense Attorney

Robbery charges should never be taken lightly. If you are currently faced with a robbery charge in the State of California, you should contact The Law Offices of David S. Chesley as soon as possible. Our knowledgeable legal team will work hard to help you obtain the best possible outcome in your criminal case.

To schedule a free consultation and case evaluation with a criminal defense lawyer in California, please call us today at 1-800-755-5174 or contact us online.

California Drug Possession FAQ

A criminal conviction for drug possession or drug trafficking in California can result in serious criminal penalties. The law in California criminalizes two distinct types of drug possession. Those crimes include simple drug possession and possession with the intent to sell. The law also differentiates between possession of controlled substances (i.e., narcotics) and marijuana. There are also separate criminal offenses for phencyclidine (PCP) and methamphetamines.

If you are currently facing a drug possession charge in California, the experienced California criminal defense attorneys at The Law Offices of David S. Chesley may be able to help. Our experienced legal team can go over your charge and potential penalties with you and develop a plan for moving your case forward. Call us today at 800-755-5174 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.

How does Simple Drug Possession Differ from Possession for Sale?

If the defendant is found in possession of any substance which is listed under the California Health and Safety Code, then the prosecutor can charge him or her with simple possession. However, if the prosecutor believes that the defendant possessed the drugs with the intention of selling or distributing them, then the prosecutor can charge the defendant with “possession for sale” or “purchase for the purpose of sale.”

What Constitutes Drug Possession in California?

There are two types of drug possession which are criminalized under the law. Those include actual physical possession of a drug and constructive drug possession.

  • Actual physical possession of a drug means that the individual actually has the drug present on his or her person. For example, the drug could be hidden in the person’s front or back pants pocket or in the pocket of a jacket or coat which the person is wearing.
  • Constructive possession usually means that the drug is present in the defendant’s immediate vicinity. For example, if drugs are found during a house raid, a person who is merely visiting the home could conceivably be charged with constructive drug possession. The same holds true in the motor vehicle context. Lack of ownership over the home or vehicle may be a valid legal defense in a drug possession case.

What Penalties can be imposed for Drug Possession in California?

The potential penalties upon conviction for a California drug possession crime depend upon several factors. Those factors include the type and amount of the drug possessed and the reason why the defendant was possessing the drug.

With the passage of Proposition 47 in 2014, drug possession offenses became punishable only as a misdemeanor in California. Moreover, individuals serving time for drug possession charges in a state prison were allowed to file a petition with the court for resentencing. However, under this new law, not every inmate is eligible to petition the court for resentencing. This includes individuals who have been convicted of murder or rape or are registered sex offenders.

Following the passage of Proposition 47, possession of controlled dangerous substances which are not marijuana is always punished as a misdemeanor, rather than as a felony. A conviction for drug possession of this type can land a person in the county jail (rather than the state prison) for a maximum of one year. Drugs which qualify as controlled dangerous substances in California include the following:

  • Schedule I opiates and opium derivatives
  • Cocaine
  • Mescaline
  • Peyote
  • Synthetic cannabis
  • Schedule II narcotics
  • Schedule II opiates
  • Schedule III hallucinogens
  • Schedule III, IV, or V drugs

Marijuana possession, however, is penalized differently than other drugs under the law. Specifically, if an individual is found in possession of greater than 28.5 grams of marijuana (with the exception of concentrated cannabis), he or she can be incarcerated for a maximum of six months and/or fined a maximum of $500.

If the individual found in possession of marijuana (28.5 grams or less) is 18 years of age or younger, he or she will receive an infraction. This typically requires that the individual complete a mandatory drug education course, along with a specified number of community service hours.

What are the Potential Penalties for Possessing Concentrated Cannabis?

Individuals found in possession of a maximum of eight grams of concentrated cannabis are not breaking any California law. However, possessing over eight grams of concentrated cannabis can lead to a maximum of one years’ incarceration and/or a maximum monetary fine of $500.

How is Marijuana Possession Handled in California?

Under Proposition 64, recreational marijuana has been decriminalized, pursuant to the Adult Use of Marijuana Act. Under this new law, adults who are 21 years of age or older are allowed to buy, possess, and consume a maximum of 28.5 grams of marijuana. The law also permits them to consume eight grams of marijuana at their home or residence – or even in an establishment which holds a license for marijuana consumption.

Although limited consumption is legal under the new law, users are not permitted to smoke marijuana while operating a motor vehicle. They are also prohibited from smoking marijuana in any location where tobacco products are prohibited, as well as in most public places.

In addition to these general prohibitions, Californians are not permitted to possess marijuana on school grounds or on the grounds of a youth center, day care center, or other public place where children are present. Individuals may grow a maximum of six marijuana plants in their private residence. However, the residence is required to be locked and may not be visible from a public vantage point.

The new California laws regarding marijuana do not change anything with regard to medical marijuana. Moreover, medical patients who have a doctor’s recommendation do not have to pay a state sales tax on medical marijuana.

What are Possible Legal Defenses for California Drug Possession Crimes?

If you have been charged with drug possession in California, you may have one or more legal defenses available to you. These defenses can be hard to spot, however, so it’s important to have a qualified California criminal defense attorney review your case. Some common defenses in drug possession cases include:

  • Medical necessity – Specifically, you may be able to allege that you have a medical condition warranting limited drug use and/or that you are in possession of a valid prescription issued by a licensed physician.
  • Unlawful search and seizure – You may be able to allege that the drugs in question were found pursuant to an improperly issued search warrant or following an invalid search or seizure that violated your Fourth Amendment rights.
  • Entrapment – You may be able to allege that police officers or investigators utilized improper tactics or that they entrapped or illegally coerced you into committing the drug crime.
  • Faulty lab analysis – You may be able to challenge any lab analysis that was performed on the drugs in question, in order to show that you possessed a smaller amount of the drug than prohibited by law.

Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney in California Today to Schedule a Free Case Evaluation

If you have been charged with a drug possession crime in California, you need experienced legal representation in your corner advocating for you at all times. The experienced California criminal defense lawyers at The Law Offices of David S. Chesley can advocate for you throughout your criminal case, including at all criminal court proceedings and trials.

The potential consequences of a drug possession conviction are too great for you to handle your criminal case alone. Therefore, to schedule a free consultation and case evaluation with a criminal defense lawyer in California, please call us today at 1-800-755-5174, or contact us online.