Penal Code §211

Commentary

Robbery is generally theft by use of force or fear.

Standard Punishment

3, 4, or 6 years in state prison.

Relevant Statutes

Penal Code §211

Robbery is the felonious taking of personal property in the possession of another, from his person or immediate presence, and against his will, accomplished by means of force or fear.

Penal Code §212

The fear mentioned in Section 211 may be either:
1. The fear of an unlawful injury to the person or property of the person robbed, or of any relative of his or member of his family; or,
2. The fear of an immediate and unlawful injury to the person or property of anyone in the company of the person robbed at the time of the robbery.

Penal Code §212.5

(a) Every robbery of any person who is performing his or her duties as an operator of any bus, taxicab, cable car, streetcar, trackless trolley, or other vehicle, including a vehicle operated on stationary rails or on a track or rail suspended in the air, and used for the transportation of persons for hire, every robbery of any passenger which is perpetrated on any of these vehicles, and every robbery which is perpetrated in an inhabited dwelling house, a vessel as defined in Section 21 of the Harbors and Navigation Code which is inhabited and designed for habitation, an inhabited floating home as defined in subdivision (d) of Section 18075.55 of the Health and Safety Code, a trailer coach as defined in the Vehicle Code which is inhabited, or the inhabited portion of any other building is robbery of the first degree.
(b) Every robbery of any person while using an automated teller machine or immediately after the person has used an automated teller machine and is in the vicinity of the automated teller machine is robbery of the first degree.
(c) All kinds of robbery other than those listed in subdivisions (a) and (b) are of the second degree.

Penal Code §213

(a) Robbery is punishable as follows:
(1) Robbery of the first degree is punishable as follows:
(A) If the defendant, voluntarily acting in concert with two or more other persons, commits the robbery within an inhabited dwelling house, a vessel as defined in Section 21 of the Harbors and Navigation Code, which is inhabited and designed for habitation, an inhabited floating home as defined in subdivision (d) of Section 18075.55 of the Health and Safety Code, a trailer coach as defined in the Vehicle Code, which is inhabited, or the inhabited portion of any other building, by imprisonment in the state prison for three, six, or nine years.
(B) In all cases other than that specified in subparagraph (A), by imprisonment in the state prison for three, four, or six years.
(2) Robbery of the second degree is punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for two, three, or five years.
(b) Notwithstanding Section 664, attempted robbery in violation of paragraph (2) of subdivision (a) is punishable by imprisonment in the state prison.

Standard Jury Instruction

The jury will generally be instructed pursuant to CalCrim 1600, which is summarized as follows

The defendant is charged with robbery.

To prove that the defendant is guilty of this crime, the People must
prove that:
1. The defendant took property that was not his own;
2. The property was in the possession of another person;
3. The property was taken from the other person or his immediate presence;
4. The property was taken against that person’s will;
5. The defendant used force or fear to take the property or to prevent the person from resisting;
AND
6. When the defendant used force or fear, he intended to deprive the owner of the property permanently or to remove the property from the owner’s possession for so extended a period of time that the owner would be deprived of a major portion of the value or enjoyment of the property.

The defendant’s intent to take the property must have been formed before or during the time (he/she) used force or fear. If the defendant did not form this required intent until after using the force or fear, then
(he/she) did not commit robbery.

A person takes something when he or she gains possession of it and moves it some distance. The distance moved may be short.

The property taken can be of any value, however slight.

A person does not have to actually hold or touch something to possess it. It is enough if the person has control over it, either personally or through another person.

Special Jury Instructions

The following case law may be of benefit in preparing special jury instructions to defend against a robbery charge.

The force required for robbery must be more than the incidental touching necessary to take the property.
Authority: People v. Garcia, 45 Cal.App.4th 1242, 1246 (1996)

“[A] good faith mistake of law may negate specific intent” in the crimes of “theft and robbery.”
Authority: Quoted language is from People v. Howard, 36 Cal. 3d 852, 863 (1984).

“An act of force accompanied by a theft does not constitute robbery unless the act of force was motivated by an intent to steal. If the intent to steal does not arise until after force has been used against the victim, no robbery has taken place.” In such instance,” . . . the taking will constitute at most a theft and not a robbery.”
Authority: Quoted language is from an instruction approved of in People v. Turner, 50 Cal. 3d 668, 691 (1990).

To satisfy the “force” or “fear” element of robbery, it is not enough that a victim is in fear while watching her property being stolen. The force used, or the fear felt by the victim must provide the means that enabled the defendant to take the victim’s property.
Authority: People v. Prieto, 15 Cal. App. 4th 210, 215 (1993).

“[A]n honest but mistaken belief in the right to reclaim wrongfully withheld property negates the specific intent necessary to constitute robbery.” If such specific intent to steal is not present at the time of the alleged offense the defendant is not guilty.
Authority: Quoted language is from People v. Smith, 136 Cal. App. 3d 961, 97 (1982).

“[W]hen the intent to steal arose only after force was used, the offense is theft, not robbery.”
Authority: Quoted language is from People v. Turner, 50 Cal. 3d 668, 688 (1990).

“[I]f the larcenous purpose does not arise until after the force has been used against the victim there is no ‘joint operation of act and intent’ necessary to constitute robbery.”
Authority: Quoted language is from People v. Green, 27 Cal. 3rd 1, 54(1980).

Theft from a person who is sleeping or unconscious is not robbery because there is no force or fear.
Authority: People v. Kelley, 220 Cal. App. 3d 1358, 1368-1369 (1990).

“. . . [A]lthough the taking may be accomplished by the use of either force or fear, . . . proof of one or the other must be made in order to sustain a conviction of robbery.”
Authority: Quoted language is from People v. Reade, 197 Cal. App. 2d 509, 510 (1961)

Recapture of money lost at an illegal game, even if by force or fear, is not robbery.
Authority: People v. Lain, 57 Cal. App. 2d 123, 131, 134 P.2d 284, 288 (1943).

“A defendant commits only one robbery no matter how many items he steals from a single victim pursuant to a single plan or intent. . . . [A] defendant who applies force with the intent to steal, has committed one robbery notwithstanding the number of items he steals during an indivisible transaction, until he has reached a place of safety.”
Authority: Quoted language is from People v. Brito, 232 Cal. App. 3d 316, 326 (1991).

“[A] robbery continues until the perpetrator has reached a place of temporary safety.”
Authority: Quoted language is from People v. Carter, 19 Cal. App. 4th 1236, 1251 (1993).

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