Robbery is a felony crime defined in California Penal Code section 211. It requires proof that the accused person used force or fear to take property from the immediate presence of a person who possessed the property. Although the offenses can differ greatly in their alleged severity, the consequences of a conviction are always extremely serious. Attorney Richard M. Oberto offers experienced legal representation for clients accused of all types of Robbery.

Intent Required for Robbery

Robbery requires proof that the accused person intended to deprive the owner of his property. The intent must have been to take the property permanently from the owner or to take the property for such an extended period of time that the owner would be deprived of a major portion of the value or enjoyment of his property. A person cannot be found guilty of Robbery if he intended to take a piece of property temporarily from the owner so that the owner would not lose out on any major portion of the value or enjoyment of the property. Although the person who took the property might be liable for other crimes, the taking of property would not be sufficient for Robbery.

Taking from the “Immediate Presence” of Another Person

Robbery requires proof of a taking from the “immediate presence” of a person who possessed the property. Although the property does not have to be on the other person, it does have to be sufficiently within the person’s physical control that he could have maintained possession of the property if he were not prevented by force or fear. A person may be liable for theft, but cannot be found guilty of Robbery when the alleged force or fear made no difference in the victim’s ability to maintain control of his property.

Force or Fear

The force or fear required to prove Robbery are not necessarily independent elements. The courts have explained that force and fear share an equivalency and that one may be attendant upon the other. (See People v. Wright (1996) 52 Cal. App. 4th 203, 210.)

The force required to establish Robbery must be more than the incidental contact and movement that is necessary to take property and carry it away. The accused person must have have used some additional force to accomplish the taking or prevent the person who possessed the property from resisting.

The fear required to establish Robbery does not have to be the personal fear that the person who possessed the property felt for himself. It also can be the person’s fear of injury to (a) his family, (b) his property, or (c) the person or property of someone who was not his family but who was present during commission of the crime.

The law deems that employee of a store or business has possession of the owner’s property while on duty. It is not a defense to Robbery that an accused person used force or fear against an employee rather than the owner himself.

First and Second Degree Robbery

California law defines two degrees of Robbery: First and Second Degree. Both are felony crimes and qualify as Strike Offenses under California’s Three Strikes Law.

First Degree Robbery may be alleged in three general types of circumstances. The first is where the alleged robbery occurred in an inhabited dwelling. The second is where the person robbed was using or had been using an ATM machine and was still near the machine. The third is where the person robbed was performing his duties as the driver of a vehicle used to transport people.

All robberies that do not fall within the definition of First Degree Robbery are considered Second Degree Robbery. In a case alleging First Degree Robbery, the prosecution has the burden of proving the allegations constituting First Degree Robbery beyond a reasonable doubt.


First Degree Robbery is punishable by three, four, or six years in prison, except when the crime qualifies as Robbery in Concert under Penal Code section 213(a)(1)(A). The latter crime is punishable by by three, six, or nine years in prison. It requires that a person acted with at least two accomplices in committing First Degree Robbery of an inhabited dwelling or structure.

Second Degree Robbery is punishable by two, three, or five years in prison.

Experienced Legal Representation

Mr. Oberto welcomes people to contact him 24/7 at (559) 221-2557 to request an initial consultation. Se habla Espanol.

People also may contact Mr. Oberto to request an initial consultation using the contact form available on this website. Please do not use the contact form to write down sensitive information. Information communicated over the internet, including through this website, may not be considered confidential or privileged.

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