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The two degrees of robbery in California

On Behalf of | Dec 19, 2023 | State Criminal Defense

California law defines robbery as the felonious taking of another person’s property, carried out by means of force or fear. This violent element sets robbery apart from other theft crimes like larceny. Robbery is also distinct from ordinary theft in that an offender conducts a robbery typically in the victim’s immediate presence.

Some people might not know that California has two types of robbery charges. If you commit a robbery offense in the state, which one will you face, and what are the consequences?

Robbery of the first degree

If a person conducts robbery against any one of the following, they commit robbery of the first degree:

  • Operators of buses, taxicabs, cable cars, streetcars, trackless trolleys and other transportation for hire
  • The passengers of any vehicle or transportation for hire
  • Anyone while they’re using an ATM or immediately after they’ve used an ATM

In addition, a robbery that occurs in any of the following locations becomes a first-degree offense:

  • An inhabited dwelling house
  • A seafaring vessel designed for habitation
  • An inhabited floating home
  • A trailer coach
  • The inhabited part of any other building

The penalties for a conviction of robbery of the first degree depend on the location of the offense. If the offense occurred in any of the locations mentioned immediately above, a conviction leads to up to nine years of prison. Otherwise, a conviction for robbery of the first degree leads to imprisonment in a state prison for up to six years.

Robbery of the second degree

Every other robbery offense other than those specified under first-degree robbery are second degree offenses. The offense is punishable by up to five years in prison on conviction.

Robbery is a violent crime that’s met with some of the most severe penalties for any offense. However, the penalties can be further enhanced depending on the location and circumstances of the offense. Whether you face charges for first or second degree robbery, consider consulting a legal professional. An attorney may be able to help you explore your defense options and protect your rights in court.