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Robbery Law & Defense

PC 211

Information on the crime of robbery is found at California penal code 211. 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.


PC 211: 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.


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.).

Gun Enhancement: If the defendant personally used a firearm during a robbery he or she will could 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), and more.


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, 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 consultations. 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 Reference​ Sheet

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)

Note: More penalties, direct or indirect, may apply. This PC211-F info is created for that purpose only; accuracy is not guaranteed. No attorney client relationship is formed by use of this info. If arrested or charged with a crime contact a lawyer without delay. 

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Related Crimes

  • Attempted Robbery PC 213(b) & PC 664/211

  • Train Robbery PC 214