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Robbery Law, Sentence & Defense
PC 211 & 212.5

Information on the crimes of robbery is found at California penal code 211 & 212.5. Basically, robbery is the theft of property from another person by force or fear.


Robbery Laws


PC 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 (PC 211 Abbrev.).

PC 212.5(a)Robbery that is committed while in transit, such as in a cab, bus, trolley car, etc., or robbery that is committed in a residence is considered to be first degree robbery [Abbrev.]. 

PC 212.5(b): Every robbery of a 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 ATM, is robbery of the first degree (PC 212.5(b) Abbrev.).

To prove that the defendant is guilty of robbery the district attorney must prove:

  • The defendant took property that was not his

  • The property was taken directly from a person

  • The property was taken against the will of the other person

  • The defendant used force or fear to the property from the other person, or the defendant prevented the other person from being able to resist

  • The defendant intended to permanently deprive that other person of the value of the property

Value of Property Not Important: The value of the property stolen does not matter. For example, if the defendant takes a wallet from another person in the act of robbery, but the wallet turns out to be empty and so the defendant leaves the wallet with the victim, the defendant may still be charged with robbery.

Force Required: The force used to commit robbery does not have to be extreme, but it has to be more than instantaneous, slight, and more than what is needed to actually take the property. For example, taking a woman's purse by grabbing it and breaking the strap might not be robbery if the woman otherwise was not harmed. Also, a defendant who pick pockets another person without the other person even knowing that he or she was pick-pocketed is not likely to be charged with robbery even though technically some force was used against the victim.

Note: Preventing another person from being able to resist can amount to force in a robbery case. For example, if the defendant drugs another person to take that person's property after the other person is rendered unconscious by the drugs, then the defendant may be charged with robbery because he or she rendered the other person incapable of resisting, even though the defendant never used force (such as a struggle) or fear to take the property. 

Punishment for Robbery (PC 211)

Fear Element: Force or Fear is required to prove robbery (DA does not have to prove both force and fear). The Fear required in robbery law is fear of bodily harm to the victim, the victim's family, or someone else that the defendant is with at the time of the robbery. The fear must be reasonable under the circumstances.

Robbery Punishment & Sentence

PC 211 Prison Sentence: All robbery crimes are classified as felonies. The most common robbery offense is found at PC 211 (theft by force or fear). If found guilty of PC 211, the defendant may be sentenced to prison for up to five (5) years.


PC 212.5(a): Robbery in the first degree carries a six (6) year sentence.

Probation Sentence: The crime of robbery is eligible for a probation sentence. A probation sentence is a period of supervision as opposed to an actual prison sentence. Most robbery probation sentences carry terms of probation that include some type of local jail time or work release

Note: A probation sentence after a conviction for robbery is not guaranteed. Whether the defendant will be allowed to serve a probation sentence as opposed to an actual prison sentence depends on many factors, including the terms of any plea bargain between the district attorney and the defendant, the defendant's criminal history, the fact and circumstances of the case, the harm cause to any victim, the remorse shown by the defendant (if any), and more.

PC 1170(h) Sentencing: PC 211 and 212.5 crimes are not eligible for split or suspended sentence. Essentially, this means that if the defendant is not granted a probation sentence after a robbery conviction, then the defendant must serve his time in a California state prison. Also, no part of that robbery prison sentence may either be split (served partially out of prison work release), or suspended (not served unless the defendant violates a term of his out-of-prison release).


Strike Offense: Robbery Crimes are strike offenses and are considered serious and violent under California law and are subject to California's Three Strikes Sentencing Law. This means that if the defendant is found guilty of robbery, and is sentenced to prison, he or she will earn less good conduct credits towards reducing the actual time spent in prison. Also, a conviction of a strike offense will enhance penalties upon any subsequent conviction for any felony offense.


Crime of Moral Turpitude: Robbery is considered a crime involving moral turpitude, which means that the crime is considered to be morally wrong. Crimes of moral turpitude carry collateral punishment for immigrants and licensed professionals (i.e., doctors, dentist, lawyers, nurses, etc.), and more.

Gun Enhancement: If the defendant personally used a firearm during a robbery, then he or she will face an enhancement to the robbery charge that may add ten to twenty (10-20) years to the defendant's prison sentence, depending on whether the firearm was discharged (PC 12022.5(a) & PC 12022.5(c)). Also, if a firearm was used in the commission of a robbery that caused great bodily injury the defendant could face twenty-five (25) years to life in prison (PC 12022.53(d)).

Additional Penalties for PC 211 can include: Fines, criminal protective orders, civil lawsuits, probation or parole terms, loss of employment, loss of rights in family law court (adoption, child custody, etc.), anger management classes, possible registration as a gang member (depending on circumstances), loss of firearm rights, and more.

Attempted Robbery: The crime of attempted robbery is charged as either 664/211 or 664/212.5, depending on whether the robbery attempted is of the first degree or the second degree. All of the penalties associated with robbery crimes apply to attempted robbery crimes; however, the prison sentence is half of the prison sentence that is otherwise associated with the robbery offense.

For example: A defendant charged with second degree robbery (PC 211) faces up to six years in prison, but a person charged with attempted second-degree robbery (PC 664/211) faces up to three years in prison.

Robbery Defenses

Every robbery case is different; therefore, every defense is different; however, common defenses to PC 211 charges include: Insufficient Evidence to prove any element of the crime, such as the intent to permanently deprive the owner of the property, mistake of fact, claim of right, statute of limitations (six years from date of robbery), insanity, coerced confessions, alibi, and more.

If you or a loved one is charged with robbery, or penal code 211, contact our criminal defense attorneys today for a free consultation. Our attorneys are successful and experienced in major crimes and we are available seven days a week to answer all of your questions. Call today!


Quick Legal Reference​

Crime: Robbery (First Degree)

Code: PC 211 (CalCrim No. 1600 et seq.)

Wobbler: No. PC 211 is not a wobbler. This means that PC 211 is only charged as a felony.​


Incarceration: ​PC 211 prison sentence range: 3, 4, or 6 yeas.

Probation: Probation is allowed in PC 211 cases (assuming other crimes or enhancements that bar a probation sentence are not present). Whether or not a probation sentence is offered by the District Attorney, or granted by the court, depends on several factors, including the defendant's criminal history and the facts of the case.​

PC 1170(h)): No. PC 211 is not subject to PC 1170(h) sentencing. This means that any incarceration ordered after a conviction, that is not part of a probation sentence, must be served in state prison (as opposed to a county jail), and the prison sentence may not be split or suspended.

Strike: PC 211 is a strike offense per California's Three Strikes law because this crime is considered a Serious offense (PC 1192.7), and a Violent offense (PC 667.5(c). Strike offenses are subject to reduced good time credits in jail or prison and other penalty enhancements upon subsequent criminal convictions.

Credits: 15% good conduct credits available.

CIMT: PC 211 is a crime involving moral turpitude, which means that an arrest or conviction could lead to the following:

  • Immigration problems

  • Professional Licensing problems

  • Impeachment on credibility


Firearms: PC 211 convictions prohibit defendant from owning or possessing a firearm. 

Bail: $100,000 (San Bernardino County)

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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 (PC 211).
The fear mentioned in Section 211 may be either:

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,

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 (PC 212).

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,..., or the inhabited portion of any other building is robbery of the first degree (PC 212.5(a) Abbrev.).
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 (PC 212.5(b)).
All kinds of robbery other than those listed in subdivisions (a) and (b) are of the second degree (PC 211.5(c)).
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