Charged with Penal Code 211 Robbery When No Force Was Used?

Posted by Ronald D. HeddingAug 29, 2022

We have been asked why prosecutors are permitted to charge someone with California Penal Code 211 PC robbery when no force or fear was used to take the property.

California Penal Code 211 PC - Robbery Charges

PC 211 defines the serious felony crime of robbery as taking personal property from someone without permission when the taking occurs in the immediate presence of the alleged victim and when the taking is accomplished using force or fear.   

This is a common question that comes up a lot in criminal defense when somebody is charged with robbery.  It is a grave crime.  They're facing prison time, a strike on their criminal record, and a whole host of other problems, and things are taken away from them – their voting rights and gun rights.

The penalties for robbery under California law depend on whether the robbery is of the first or second degree and on the case's specific circumstances. Further, certain sentencing enhancements could substantially increase the punishment for robbery, such as using a firearm.  A first-degree robbery is charged when:

  • the victim is the driver or passenger in a bus, taxi, or another mode of public transportation,
  • when the victim is inside an inhabited dwelling place or home, or
  • when the victim is using or has just finished using an ATM.

Second-degree robbery will be charged for all other types of robberies.

To obtain a conviction for Penal Code 211 robbery, a prosecutor must prove all the elements of the crime listed in California Criminal Jury Instructions 1600. Our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers will look closely at this below.

What is an Estes Robbery?

So, suppose the person that's you or your loved one didn't take the property away from somebody physically.

What is an Estes Robbery?

In that case, whether it be by threat or whether it be by threat or by force, and yet somehow they're still charged with robbery, this is probably what's called an Estes robbery, where the force or fear is used during an escape. 

Let's say somebody goes into a store – a Target, a Marshall's – anywhere, and they take property and are trying to exit the store, and the security loss prevention comes and says, hold up. 

You've got our property, and they say, get out of my way, or I'm going to kill you – they just turned a theft into a robbery because they used fear to scare the person during their escape.

Let's say that security stands in front of them, they walk up, punch security in the face, or physically come in contact with security to escape – they've just committed a robbery

This Estes case, which is a case where no force or fear was used to take the property, and the person still got convicted of robbery, basically says that if you use force or fear during your escape, you can be charged with a robbery just like you used force or fear when you were taking the property.

What are the Punishments for PC 211 Robbery?

If convicted, the legal penalties always depend on whether you were convicted of a first-degree or second-degree robbery. The sentences for a California second-degree robbery are:

  • Two, three, or five years in state prison,
  • A fine of up to $10,000,
  • Formal felony probation.

Suppose the first-degree robbery occurred within an occupied dwelling and was committed in concert with at least two other people. In that case, this is considered the more severe home invasion crime and carries three, six, or nine years in a California state prison.  All other first-degree robberies have the following penalties:

  • Three, four, or six years in prison,
  • A fine of up to $10,000.
  • Formal felony probation.

The judge can impose felony probation rather than jail time for a PC 211 robbery conviction. Still, a defendant could be ordered to serve up to a year in the county jail and impose other conditions such as community service hours.  Since Penal Code 211 PC robbery is a violent felony in California, it will count as a “strike” under the three strikes law.

If the victim suffered a great bodily injury during the robbery, a defendant would be facing an additional six years in prison defined under California Penal Code 12022.7, great bodily injury enhancement.

What Are the Related Crimes?

Contact a Robbery Defense Professional

So, if you or a loved one is charged with robbery related to this Estes case, you will need the best criminal defense attorney you can find.  I've been handling robbery cases now for 30 years. 

I worked for the DA's office early in my career and then for a superior court judge, and then finally, in the early 1990s, I began defending people charged with robbery just like you or your loved one.

Defenses for Penal Code 211 PC Robbery Charges

One good thing about these Estes robberies is, usually depending on the circumstances, of course, they're looked at as a little less severe and dangerous than a regular robbery where somebody takes a gun, for example, and takes property away from somebody, hurt somebody seriously and takes their property. 

Those are the typical bad robbery cases in which prosecutors will not move on the charge and will always want prison.  But these Estes robberies, a lot of times, are a little more apt to keep an open mind. 

Of course, depending on the person's criminal record, what happened in the case, whether anybody got hurt, and a lot of times, we can get what's called a Penal Code Section 487(c), which is a grand theft person. 

That's just taking property away from somebody, but it's not a robbery.  It's not a strike.  It's not a violent felony.  Typically, you're not going to have to go to prison.

So, if you need somebody because you're charged with robbery, and it's an Estes robbery situation as I've described, pick up the phone now and contact the Hedding Law Firm.  We offer a free case evaluation by phone or fill out the contact form.