March 5, 2014 By Paul Wallin

The Not So Convenient Consequences of Robbery in Orange County (Penal Code 211)

A classic example of robbery involves the holdup of a convenience store. A robber pulls a gun (even if the gun is unloaded or is actually just a toy gun) and demands money from the clerk. Apologizing for robbing someone may make you feel better, but this doesn’t lessen the severity of the crime. Take a look at this recent case of robbery in Orange County, in which the alleged robber had a conscience…

The Apologetic Bandit Robbery in Orange County

consequences for robbery in Orange County
There are severe consequences for robbery in Orange County

On Feb. 3, Orange County Sheriff deputies apprehended 19-year-old Farhad Sharifi after officers responded to an armed robbery report from a 7-Eleven convenience store in Lake Forest. Officers at the scene reported recovering a replica gun (air soft gun) along with a mask in making the arrest.

The suspect has been dubbed the “Apologetic Bandit” because he was captured on a video surveillance camera apologizing to a store clerk while holding him at what appears to be gunpoint. “Have a good night, man. Sorry,” the alleged robber says as he makes his getaway.

The man is also suspected in 10 other Orange County robberies of gas stations and convenience stores that took place over the past 12 to 14 months.

What is Robbery?

Robbery under California Penal Code Section 211 is the “felonious” taking of:

  • Another’s property;
  • From his or her immediate presence;
  • Against his or her will; and
  • Accomplished by means of force or fear.

Robbery is a crime of both theft and violence (or the threat of violence). However, the value of the property you take while committing robbery does not matter.

Armed robbery is accomplished using a dangerous weapon. It is important that you understand that a dangerous weapon doesn’t necessarily mean a loaded gun. It could be virtually anything – for example, a baseball bat, a tire iron, a knife or an unloaded gun – as long as a “reasonable person” would feel threatened by it.

Is Using a Replica Gun Still Armed Robbery?

armed robbery
Using a replica gun in robbery can be considered armed robbery.

Penal Code Section 12550 describes an “imitation firearm” – which includes a toy gun or a replica of a firearm – as being “so substantially similar in coloration and overall appearance to an existing firearm as to lead a reasonable person to perceive that the device is a firearm.”

If you use a replica gun to commit robbery, this satisfies the element of “accomplished by means of force or fear” in a robbery prosecution.

Degrees of Robbery

Robbery is always a felony in California. However, California law distinguishes robbery as being of either the first or second degree.

First degree robbery is reserved for the most serious robbery offenses. You commit first degree robbery if you rob:

  • The driver or any passenger of any type of commercial vehicle (for example a taxi, bus, or train);
  • A person(s) within an “inhabited” home; or
  • People who are using or have just finished using an ATM.

Second degree robbery is robbery committed under any circumstances that don’t rise to the level of first degree robbery, such as robbing a convenience store.

Defenses to Robbery

An experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to argue a variety of defenses to robbery on your behalf. Possible defenses include:

  • You did not intend to rob anyone. You accidently took something during the commission of some other crime;
  • You did not use force or fear to take something that doesn’t belong to you. However, you may still be charged with other theft crimes;
  • You have been falsely accused; or
  • You have been mistakenly identified as being the perpetrator of a robbery. For example, someone picked you out of a line up because you resemble a robbery suspect.

Consequences of a Robbery Conviction

go to jail for robbery
You may go to prison for robbery.

A first degree robbery conviction is punishable by three, four or six years in prison. If you and at least two accomplices commit robbery of an inhabited house or building, your sentence increases to three, six or nine years.

Second degree robbery is punishable by two, three or five years in prison.

Robbery is considered a serious felony – or “strike” – under California’s Three Strikes Law, which means you will not be eligible for parole until you complete at least 85% of your sentence if you are convicted of this crime.

Robbery is also a deportable offense if you are not a U.S. citizen.

Use a Gun and You’re Done

Penal Code Section 12022.53, California’s 10-20-Life law, authorizes an additional and consecutive prison sentence whenever you commit robbery or certain other felonies while involving the use of a firearm as follows:

  • 10 years for personally using a loaded or unloaded firearm;
  • 20 years for personally and intentionally discharging a firearm;
  • 25 years to life for personally and intentionally discharging a firearm causing anyone other than an accomplice to suffer great bodily injury or death.

The “Apologetic Bandit” Faces a Lengthy Prison Sentence

While California’s “Use a Gun and You’re Done” law applies in robberies where an actual firearm is involved, you need to be aware that using a toy gun or imitation firearm to commit robbery can still lead to very serious consequences.

If the Apologetic Bandit is ultimately convicted of every robbery of which he is suspected, he could be facing separate and consecutive sentencing for each of his victims – 11 robberies could mean up to 55 years in prison.

Contact Wallin & Klarich Today if You Have Been Charged with Robbery

Orange County robbery attorney
Call an Orange County robbery attorney today.

If you or a family member has been arrested on robbery charges, you should speak to one of our experienced criminal defense attorneys at Wallin & Klarich today. Our attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have over 40 years of experience successfully defending our clients charged with robbery and other theft-related crimes.

We will examine all of the evidence against you to determine if every element of the crime you are charged with can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. If not, we will argue that the charges against you must be reduced or dismissed. If your case goes to trial, we will employ every available strategy to help you win your case.

With offices in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Tustin, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, the criminal defense attorneys at Wallin & Klarich are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to provide you with the personal attention you deserve. We will fight to get you the best possible result in your case.

Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free telephone consultation. We will get through this together.

AUTHOR: Paul Wallin

Paul Wallin is one of the most highly respected attorneys in Southern California. His vast experience, zealous advocacy for his clients and extensive knowledge of many areas of the law make Mr. Wallin a premiere Southern California attorney. Mr. Wallin founded Wallin & Klarich in 1981. As the senior partner of Wallin & Klarich, Mr. Wallin has been successfully representing clients for more than 30 years. Clients come to him for help in matters involving assault and battery, drug crimes, juvenile crimes, theft, manslaughter, sex offenses, murder, violent crimes, misdemeanors and felonies. Mr. Wallin also helps clients with family law matters such as divorce and child custody.

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