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What are the elements of robbery under California law?

When facing a criminal charge, it is in your best interests to understand the crime of which authorities have accused you. Even if you have a vague idea of what an allegation means, your case could hinge on a small detail of your arrest or the law. Therefore, taking the time to learn more about your predicament could make a difference in the outcome of your case.

When it comes to robbery charges, you may need to understand what actions constitute robbery, what punishment you could face if a conviction occurs and what elements could possibly lead to aggravated charges. Additionally, each state has differing laws on robbery, and you need to know how California laws may impact you.

Elements of the crime

When it comes to proving robbery -- or any crime -- the prosecution must prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. In a robbery case, the prosecution would need to prove that the following elements existed:

  • You intentionally caused fear to another person through force or intimidation, such as with a weapon or other means.
  • The alleged victim felt fearful that he or she would suffer harm, that others nearby would suffer harm or that the person's property would suffer harm.
  • You took a person's property while that individual was in the vicinity of the property. This element may mean that the alleged victim was physically near the property or could hear or see the property.
  • You left the area with another person's property in your possession.

The elements involving fear and possibility of harm are important to robbery cases because without these elements, the crime would likely fall into the category of larceny.

Degrees of the crime

Additionally, state law dictates that two degrees of robbery exist, with the first degree coming with more severe punishment if conviction takes place. In order for first degree robbery to occur, the court must prove that the previously mentioned elements existed and that one of the following factors also applied:

  • The alleged victim was using an ATM or was near an ATM at the time of the robbery.
  • You robbed a home or other inhabited place.
  • The alleged victim was working as a taxi driver or transit operator at the time of the robbery.

If none of these factors applied, the charge would fall into the category of second degree.

Defending against charges

Once you understand the various details of your charges and other aspects of your case, you may want to move forward with further exploring your defense options. Various legal avenues may be open to you, and it could work in your best interests to utilize local legal resources for reliable information.

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