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Sentence Enhancements for Robbery

Theft Crimes Defense Attorney for People in San Bernardino and Riverside Counties

California deals harshly with those convicted of robbery. As a felony, taking someone else’s property through intimidation or force carries severe penalties. People convicted of robbery also face serious consequences if convicted of future crimes, particularly violent crimes, as robbery qualifies as a “strike” according to California's “Three Strikes” law. Additionally, depending on the specific circumstances of the alleged robbery, sentence enhancements set forth in the California Penal Code may increase the length of prison time already received for a robbery conviction. Sentence enhancements are often termed aggravating factors, as they increase the severity of the criminal act. If you have been charged with robbery, a qualified San Bernardino and Riverside County theft crimes lawyer can help you protect your legal rights. At the Law Offices of Gregory H. Comings, we provide experienced and dedicated legal advocacy to people accused of major drug crimes, theft crimes, domestic violence, and other violent crimes.

Robbery as a Felony Crime According to California Law

In order to be convicted under California Penal Code section 211 for robbery, the state must prove that the defendant took another individual’s property from their person or their immediate presence. The prosecution must demonstrate that the defendant took this property against the victim’s will, and completed this theft through force or fear. All elements must be proven for a conviction, although a lesser offense may result even if these specific elements are not proven.

Currently, convictions for robbery under California law are categorized as either first or second degree. First degree refers to robbery of a driver or passenger of a bus, taxi, or other vehicle as set forth in Penal Code section 213. First degree may also include robbery in an inhabited structure, or robbery of a person who has used an ATM and is within the vicinity of the ATM. Those convicted typically face between three and nine years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000. A conviction for second degree robbery may carry a sentence of two, three, or five years in state prison as well as a fine. Second degree robbery is any robbery not defined as first degree.

Counts of robbery are set by the number of victims. In other words, if you take property through force from two people, you will be charged with two counts of California robbery. If multiple items are taken from one individual, most likely this results in one charge of robbery.

Sentence Enhancements for Robbery Increase the Length of Time Beyond the Normal Range

Conviction for robbery according to California law can involve sentence enhancements, and these depend on the specific facts of the crime. According to Penal Code section 12022.7 PC, when another person suffers “great bodily injury” during a robbery, California’s great bodily injury enhancement may apply. This enhancement potentially adds three to six years to the sentence received for the robbery injury is one that causes substantial physical injury. In most cases of great bodily injury, the victim will have received medical care and have suffered pain.

When a firearm is used during the commission of a robbery, enhancements are set forth in Penal Code section 12022.53. Known as California’s “10-20-life” law, under this rule ten years are added to a sentence when a firearm is used, and twenty years are added when the firearm is discharged. If another person suffers great bodily injury or death with a firearm during a robbery, the defendant will receive twenty-five years to life in prison as an additional and consecutive term of imprisonment.

In an effort to deal with gang-related crime, California has enhanced the sentence for crimes committed for the benefit of or in association with a criminal street gang. Defendants convicted of such activity may face a ten-year prison sentence enhancement. In some situations, those associated with gangs but not in gangs, such as someone dating an alleged gang member, can face enhanced sentences.

Finally, because robbery is considered a violent felony according to California law, it qualifies as a “strike” under California’s “Three Strikes” law. After receiving a robbery conviction, if you are then charged with another California felony, you may have twice the normal sentence for that felony. Once a defendant has accumulated three “strikes,” they receive 25 years to life in prison as a sentence.

Understanding Your Rights Relative to Sentence Enhancements for Robbery

In the same manner that defendants’ constitutional rights apply when they are charged with robbery, they maintain these rights when the prosecuting attorney seeks an enhanced sentence. During a trial for robbery, the burden lies on the prosecution to show, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendant committed the crime. There can be no enhancement imposed for robbery if there is no conviction for the underlying crime.

Sentence enhancements for robbery are not elements of the crime itself. Instead, these depend on additional facts specific to the case. If the state establishes these facts, the potential penalty of the crime increases. The defendant has the right to hold the state accountable in proving that aggravating factors were present beyond a reasonable doubt. A skilled attorney can help assess whether the alleged enhancement in your case should be dismissed.

Lawyer Serving San Bernardino and Riverside Residents Accused of Robbery

When defendants are facing charges for or a related violent crime, the consequences of a conviction may include lengthy prison sentences as well as fines. Sentence enhancements heighten the severity of punishment. At the Law Offices of Gregory H. Comings, we represent those accused of crimes throughout Riverside and San Bernardino Counties. Our goal is to provide honest legal representation that strategically helps you advance your case and protect your future. To schedule a free appointment and learn more about your legal rights, call our office at (951) 686-3457 or contact us online. We assist people throughout communities including Palm Springs, Indio, Palm Desert, Temecula, Redlands, Ontario, and Victorville.

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