Orange County Armed Robbery Defense Attorney
Protecting Your Rights in a Criminal Trial
Within the state of California, robbery is defined as utilizing intimidation to take possession of another person’s property. It is a serious felony crime that comes with stiff penalties. However, armed robbery is an enhancement of robbery that involves the use of a weapon to force or scare someone into giving up their property. If a gun was used in the process of the robbery, this further increases the penalty of robbery to between 10-25 years in prison, per California Penal Code (PC) 12022.5.
Robbery is a serious crime that requires an equally serious defense, especially if a weapon was involved. If you were charged with armed robbery in Orange County, immediately contact the Law Office of Michael L. Guisti at (714) 530-9690 or toll-free at (888) 478-8999 to secure strong legal counsel.
Penalties for Armed Robbery Charges in California
California courts classify robbery into first-degree and second-degree charges. The key difference between the two is that first-degree robbery occurs within someone’s home, work, or at an ATM, while second-degree robbery occurs at any other location, such as an alleyway. First-degree robbery comes with the penalty of:
- Three to six years in prison if you acted alone
- Three to nine years in prison if you acted in consort with two or more individuals
Second-degree robbery is a lesser sentencing that comes with:
- Two to five years in prison
Generally, “armed robbery” can include any type of deadly weapon or object that is utilized to intimidate an individual through force or fear. In California courts, deadly weapons are defined as any weapon that can cause bodily harm, other than a firearm. If you do not cause bodily harm with these weapons, such as a knife or bat, then the penalties will remain relatively the same. In contrast, “strong-armed robbery” occurs when you do not use a weapon during the process.
However, if a firearm was involved in the robbery, then you could also be charged with using a firearm in conjunction with a felony crime. Armed robbery charges include the following penalties:
- If you threatened with or brandished a firearm during the robbery you could receive up to 10 years in prison.
- If you fired the gun during the robbery, you could receive a maximum of 20 years in prison.
Furthermore, if you caused “great bodily harm” during the robbery, such as by shooting or killing someone, you could be charged with Penal Code (PC) 12022.7, which includes:
- Three to six years in prison in addition to the above-mentioned penalties, depending on the circumstances of the crime and the injuries; or
- 25-years to life if an individual was killed during the robbery.
Collectively, these penalties are referred to as the 10-20-Life Law, which refers to the punishments a defendant faces when they utilize a firearm in a crime. It is one of the most serious enhancements for a robbery charge in California, in addition to criminal street gang charges and violations of California’s Three Strike Laws.
Differences between Robbery and Assault with a Deadly Weapon
There is some overlap between armed robbery and assault with a deadly weapon. Armed robbery is considered a felony offense, whereas assault with a deadly weapon may be charged as a misdemeanor or felony. Misdemeanor assault with a deadly weapon is defined by California Penal Code (PC) 245(a)(1) as assaulting an individual with any weapon other than a firearm. Because of this key difference, assault with a deadly weapon does not fall under the more serious charge of armed robbery with a firearm enhancement. If a firearm is used, then it would constitute a felony offense.
It is possible for a California prosecutor to charge you with both robbery and assault with a deadly weapon if the accused claims that they felt threatened or suffered bodily harm during the robbery. Reducing or dismissing these charges is a complicated matter, as it requires a thorough understanding of the law and the circumstances of the crime. When your future hangs in the balance, it is important to contact a highly experienced OC criminal defense attorney to prepare your case.
Building a Defense Case
For the prosecution to successfully charge a defendant with an armed robbery charge, they must prove:
- That the defendant took property they had no legal ownership over;
- That the property was taken in the presence of the owner;
- That the owner gave up the property unwillingly;
- That the defendant used force or fear to intimidate the owner;
- That the defendant used a deadly weapon to intimidate the owner; and
- That the defendant intended to take the property permanently or devalue its worth.
Because armed robbery follows the same standards as robbery, a criminal defense attorney can employ similar defenses in order to have charges decreased or dismissed:
- No Fear or Force: What makes robbery different from theft is the use of force or fear. If the property was taken without the knowledge of the owner, then the defendant should only be charged with theft. Even if they did have a weapon on them at the time of the theft, it was not used in relation to the crime or to threaten an owner and should not be used in the case against them.
- Inaccurate Testimony: Witness testimony is subjective and can be misleading, especially during high-stress situations. They may misinterpret the order of events and accuse the wrong individual, especially if they get the description wrong. A skilled attorney can identify the inconsistencies in their statements and use other pieces of evidence, such as alibis or surveillance footage, to dismiss their testimonies.
- Ownership: A defendant may have lawful ownership of the property they were accused of stealing. If they confronted a neighbor who had stolen a TV from their garage and taken it back, they could not be charged with robbery, so long as they did not use force or fear.
Contact a Skilled Criminal Defense Attorney
When you bring your case to the Law Office of Michael L. Guisti, our expert lead attorney will take the time to analyze every aspect of your situation to craft a detailed defense. He has a thorough understanding of the Orange County criminal justice system and has handled multiple felony cases, assisting clients in receiving reduced sentences or dismissing the charges altogether. If you have been charged with armed robbery, contact us at (714) 530-9690 to ensure your rights are protected by a knowledgeable Irvine criminal defense attorney.
Whether you're facing a felony or a misdemeanor, don't risk a conviction. Act quickly to redeem your reputation and protect your record by consulting with our Orange County criminal defense lawyer. Call today to schedule your free consultation.