San Diego Criminal Defense

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San Diego Criminal Lawyer

Robbery | Theft Crimes

First Degree Robbery

California Penal Code 212.5(a)


Definition of first degree robbery PC 212.5(a):

A robbery is a theft from another person by use of force or threat.  A robbery of the first degree is a robbery of a:

* Inhabited Dwelling/Home

* Boat/Yacht

* Bus

* Taxi

* Cable/Street Car

* Trolley or

* Other Vehicle


Examples of behavior that could lead to a charge of first degree robbery:

* Breaking and entering into a person's house and eating somebody else's food

* Stealing somebody's purse after they have just left an ATM. 

* Stealing a yacht and throwing the owner overboard 


In order to convict you on a charge of first degree robbery PC 212.5(a), the Government must prove:

1. The defendant took property that was not (his/her) own;

2. The property was in the possession of another person;

3. The property was taken from the other person or (his/her) 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;


6. When the defendant used force or fear to take the property, (he/ she) intended (to deprive the owner of it permanently/ [or] to remove it 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).



Scenario (1): The robbery was committed in an inhabited (dwelling/vessel/floating home/trailer coach/part of a building). A (dwelling/vessel/floating home/ trailer coach/part of a building) is inhabited if someone lives there and either is present or has left but intends to return.]




Scenario (2): The robbery was committed while the person robbed was using or had just used an ATM machine and was still near the machine.




Scenario (3): The robbery was committed while the person robbed was performing (his/her) duties as the driver of or was a passenger on (a/an) (bus/taxi/ cable car/streetcar/trackless trolley/ <other kind of vehicle used to transport people>


All other robberies are of the second degree.


Clarifying Jury Instructions


* 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.] [Two or more people may possess something at the same time.

* A person does not have to actually hold or touch something to possess it. It is enough if the person has (control over it/ [or] the right to control it), either personally or through another person.

* Fear, as used here, means fear of (injury to the person himself or herself[,]/ [or] injury to the person’s family or property[,]/ [or] immediate injury to someone else present during the incident or to that person’s property).

* Property is within a person’s immediate presence if it is sufficiently within his or her physical control that he or she could keep possession of it if not prevented by force or fear.

* An act is done against a person’s will if that person does not consent to the act. In order to consent, a person must act freely and voluntarily and know the nature of the act.


Punishment for first degree robbery:

A first degree robbery is a felony, punishable by 3, 6, or 9 years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine. 

California 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.



Claim of Right

If you have a sincere, honest and unmistakable belief the property is yours, that is a defense to a crime of robbery.  This applies only to a specific piece of property that you would reasonably mistake for your own property


"Settling a debt" is not a defense to robbery


False Identification

You were not the person who took the property. 


No force used

The alleged victim gave you the property. 


Second Degree Robbery

California Penal Code 212.5(c)


Definition of second degree robbery PC 212.5(c):


All robberies that are not first degree robberies, are considered to be 2nd degree robbery.  2nd degree robbery is defined the same as first degree robbery, except that the robbery did not take place in an inhabited dwelling, vessle, or near an ATM.  


Examples of behavior that could lead to a charge of second degree robbery:

* Pickpocketing

* Grifting

* Huckstering

In order to convict you on a charge of second degree robbery PC 212.5(c), the Government must prove:

Same proof required as 1st degree robbery. 


Punishment for second degree robbery:


2nd degree robbery is a felony and is punishable by 2, 3 or 5 years and/or a $10,000 fine. 



2nd Degree Robbery