San Jose Cake Shop Patrons Robbed at Gunpoint (CA Penal Code 211)

If recent Bay area crime history is taken into account, it seems that robberies in places like cake shops and bakeries are becoming less and less unusual.  At the end of last month, for example, the Nothing Bundt Cakes shop in San Jose found its patrons being robbed at gunpoint by an as yet unidentified man.  Although local law enforcement agents are working hard to identify the man through video surveillance footage, and by sending the still shots of the robber to media outlets, they have yet to close the case.  The alleged robber seems to have simply walked into the bakery, pulled out a handgun, and emptied the wallets of terrified customers.

Briefly, it is useful to note that California law makes a clear distinction between two terms that we normally consider being synonyms ‘burglary’ and ‘robbery.’  In the case above, the crime that was allegedly committed was ‘robbery,’ as it involved taking individual persons’ property from their immediate presence with the use of force or fear (CA Penal Code 211).

Penalties for California robbery convictions are quite harsh.  First, the crime of robbery is always considered a felony.  Of course, there are two types of robbery: first-degree and second-degree.  First-degree robbery, occurring in an inhabited building, on public transport, or near an ATM, could mean up to 9 years in a California state prison.  A second-degree robbery conviction, however, which refers to any other type of robbery, may mean facing up to only 5 years in state prison.

San Jose Minor Robbed at Gunpoint (CA Penal Code 211)

Cases involving home invasion are becoming more and more common these days, but this story is particularly disturbing considering it involved a young girl.  On the 1200 block of Ranchero Way in San Jose, a 10-year-old girl happened to be at home when 2 men knocked at her door.  Unaware that they wished her any harm, the girl opened the door, allowing the men to force their way into her home.  There, one of them allegedly held a gun to her head while the other stole various pieces of valuable property, including cash.  The suspects remain at large.

In the state of California, there is a distinct difference made, by law, between the crime of ‘robbery’ and the crime of ‘burglary.’  In order for a particular violation of the law to be considered ‘robbery’ (CA Penal Code 211), property must be taken from a person, against their will, and from their immediate presence.  Force and fear must also have been used.  ‘Burglary’ (CA Penal Code 459), on the other hand, involves actually entering a building, vehicle, or room for the express purpose of committing a felony.

There are two different types of California burglary, first-degree and second-degree.  First degree (often referred to as ‘residential burglary’) is always treated as a felony offense.  Penalties include up to 6 years in state prison, and a strike under California’s Three Strikes Law.  A crime may only be considered ‘burglary’ if the perpetrators entered a structure that is inhabited, like the girl’s home above.  An inhabited structure is defined as any place where a person sleeps or lives.

Juvenile named as accomplice in Home Invasion Robbery (CA Penal Code 211)

San Jose has been newly introduced to a strange crime, some of the details of which have yet to be determined.   According to local law enforcement agents, a 17-year-old boy plotted with 2 of his fellow students, known gang members, to carry out a home invasion at his own home.  Although the 2 gang members were the ones to actually invade the home on Shiloh Place in Evergreen, the son stands accused of setting the whole thing up.  His motivation remains unknown, but what is known is that the 2 youths entered the home, grabbed knives from the kitchen, and sought out 2 women and a young girl who were in the home.  The 3 alleged victims survived by locking themselves in a bathroom.  All three young persons, plus a fourth, have been charged with gang crimes, burglary, and robbery.  Prosecutors in Santa Clara County claim that they will be tried as adults.

While the crime of ‘burglary’ is the actual entering of a structure, room, or vehicle with the intent to commit a particular crime (CA Penal Code 459), ‘robbery’ (CA Penal Code 211) is the taking of property from an actual person in their presence.  Robbery is a violation of California law that is always treated as a felony.  A first-degree robbery conviction may end in up to 9 years in prison, while a second-degree robbery conviction may mean up to 5 years in state prison.  Penalties for first-degree burglary, also always treated as a felony, may, on the other hand, end in up to 6 years in state prison.

The fate of these 4 boys (ages 16 to 22 years) remains to be seen.  However, it is certain that prosecutors are already considering gang sentencing enhancements as part of the charges (see CA Penal Code 186.22).  Technically called the “California Street Terrorism Enforcement and Prevention Act,” or STEP, sets forth the possibility for extra time in prison when a particular crime can be tied to gang-related activity.  For example, anyone committing a felony in order to help their gang may be sentenced to an extra 15 years to 25-to-life in addition to the normal sentence for their crime.


East Bay Duo Arrested for Robbery for Online Escort Ads (CA Penal Code 211)

A man and woman (24 and 20) from East Bay have recently been arrested for their suspected part in the robbery of at least one individual who answered an online ad for an escort.  The couple allegedly worked together to rob unsuspecting men after luring them with the promise of sexual intercourse.  They were arrested after one of their supposed victims began to get suspicious and sprayed one of the couple with pepper spray.  Charges of second-degree robbery followed for both.

In California, the crime of robbery is always considered a felony (CA Penal Code 211).  What remains to be determined by prosecutors is the ‘degree’ of the robbery.  When one individual uses some type of force or fear in order to take personal property directly from another individual, a robbery has taken place.  A so-called ‘first degree’ robbery is said to have occurred when the unlawful taking of property occurs at an ATM, involves public transportation, or happens in a residence or other inhabited building.  A second-degree robbery is a robbery that occurs in any other situation or at any other site.

State penalties for second-degree robbery are harsh.  Anyone convicted of this crime can expect to be subjected to felony probation.  They should also expect to spend anywhere from 2-5 years in state prison and to pay up to $10,000 in fines.  If injuries are caused or if the robbery involves a firearm, there may be additional sentencing enhancements to consider which could greatly lengthen a person’s prison term.

Girl Scout Robbed of Cash Box in San Jose (CA Penal Code 211)

Yes, it’s that time of year again, time for members of the Girl Scouts of America to ply their wares in offices, homes, and outside of big box stores.  One alleged thief, however, thought that the Girl Scout cookie cash box was sweeter than the boxes of cookies he found it next to.  A 23-year-old man was arrested at a Safeway in San Jose (Branham Lane) for grabbing a GSA cash box, literally from the arms of a crying Girl Scout.  Dutifully, the girl called 911 and her mother jotted down the license plate number of a Ford Bronco the suspect was driving.  The cash box was eventually recovered in close-by creek, where the thief had allegedly dumped it.

Due to the nature of the robbery, the suspect in this case will likely be charged with second-degree robbery (CA Penal Code 211) as the man and the Girl Scout ‘struggled’ with one another for possession of the box of money.  According to California law, robbery (which is always considered a felony), is the theft of property or values from a person who is in the immediate presence of another.  For comparison, ‘burglary’ is defined as theft that does not take place in the immediate presence of the person being robbed.

What will the penalty be if the young man is convicted of robbing the Girl Scouts?  He will likely face anywhere from 2-5 years in state prison.  However, there is a happy ending to this story.  Local law enforcement officials found the members of the affected troop of Girl Scouts so distraught that they bought the rest of the cookies they had for sale that day (a value of $240) and made an additional $600 donation to the troop.  It is certain that the girls left with smiles on their faces.

Fremont Man Robbed by Hired Prostitute (CA Penal Code 211)

Recently, a woman that a Fremont man made contact with through the use of an online prostitution site used the meeting to swindle him out of a whole lot more than the price he would have paid for an evening of sex.  According to the man, earlier this month, he set up a meeting with a woman that calls herself  “Krissy” (her alias on a specific prostitution site).  Not long after he picked her up and took her to his home, however, he began feeling drowsy.  He claims that the next thing he knew, he was tied up and being threatened by several of “Krissy’s” buddies, 3 others to be exact.  The 4 suspects took nearly everything the man owned, including his cash, more than one laptop, and some valuables.

California law is clear concerning incidences like the one described above.  The actions of the 4 suspected criminals fall under the legal category of ‘robbery’ (CA Penal Code 211).  ‘Robbery’ includes the taking of any personal property of another, but this must be accomplished in the presence of the person who is being robed and must be against their will.  In other words, whereas ‘burglary’ might happen while the victim is not at home, robbery occurs while the person is in the immediate vicinity and is being threatened by the use of force or fear.

Violation of CA PC 211 is never considered a misdemeanor in California; it is always prosecuted as a felony robbery charge.  To that effect, there are subtle differences between 2 kinds of robbery, first-degree and second-degree.  In order to be considered first-degree robbery, the crime must take place in a building that is inhabited (or on a bus or other means of public transport or at an ATM).  Second-degree robbery covers any other kind of robbery, like that of an uninhabited building.  First-degree robbery of the kind in the case above could mean that each of the alleged assailants might spend up to 9 years in state prison.


Man Dressed as Santa Accused of Bank Robbery in S.F. (CA Penal Code 211)

SantaCon, an annual pub crawl in which everyone is dressed in a Santa suit was the perfect cover for a bank robber who managed some very non-Santa-like behavior – robbing a bank.  This Santa allegedly strolled in to a bank on Sutter Street in Union Square and proceeded to hand the teller a note, then take off, cash in hand, into the Santa-filled streets where he successfully blended in quite nicely with the crowd.

According to CA Penal Code 211, any time an individual take another person’s property directly from them, and against the person’s will, this is considered the crime of ‘robbery.’  While there are many different ways in which a robbery can occur, the kind mentioned above, one in which a robber walks into a bank, demands money through threats and then escapes is the most common type of robbery, at least in the public imagination.  In California, robbery is always considered a felony, never a misdemeanor. There are, however distinctions made by law between ‘first-degree’ robbery and ‘second-degree’ robbery.  First-degree robbery includes such things as the robbery of an individual home, at an ATM, or anyone using public transport.  Second-degree robbery covers everything else.

If convicted of first-degree robbery, penalties include up to 6 years in state prison and a $10,000 fine.  However, if you are convicted of second-degree robbery, the consequences are less serious.  The robbery of a bank, for example, could end in up to 5 years in state prison, a $10,000 fine and felony probation.  If, like at a bank, there is more than one victim, then you could be charged for each individual instance of robbery.


Berkeley Protestor Arrested on Charges of Second Degree Robbery (CA Penal Code 211)

As protests and rioting continue to muddle the line between ‘peaceful’ and ‘violent,’ 2 more individuals (names withheld to protect the accused) have been arrested for having allegedly attacked police officers during protests in Berkeley and Oakland.  According to one law enforcement officer, a 27-year-old man attempted to steal his official police bicycle in Berkeley, he was arrested on charges of second-degree robbery (CA Penal Code 211).  In Oakland, a 22-year-old man has been accused of having resisted arrest and assaulting an officer when he allegedly attempted to run over a policeman who was attempting to stop the individual from allowing 2 persons ride atop the van he was driving.  These cases represent the continuous battle between police and citizens in the Bay area.

Let us take the first instance, that of the incident in Berkeley.  In order to be convicted of second-degree robbery, a person must take property from another by use of force or fear.  They must also remove the property from the individual directly and against their wishes.  This crime is always considered a California felony and you could spend up to 5 years in state prison, pay a $10,000 fine, or end up on felony probation if you are found guilty.  Prosecutors will have to prove all the above elements of this crime in order to gain a conviction of the 27-year-old man in Berkeley,  including that he used ‘force or fear’ in order to attempt to take the bicycle from the officer.  Many questions remain, including this one:  can a citizen use force and fear toward a police officer when there is no weapon involved?


Oakland Man Exonerated for Alleged Armed Robbery (CA Penal Code 211)

Most of us understand that the justice system in the United States is not always perfect.  We were reminded of this particular phenomenon just recently as an Oakland man recently had his conviction for robbery overturned by the First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco.  Though the man had already served his 3-year sentence (name withheld in order to protect the individual’s privacy), it is imagined that his victory must have seemed a pyrrhic one.

The incident in questioned happened in July of 2012 when a grocery store on 96th Avenue (East Oakland) was robbed.  Prosecutors had a weak case from the beginning:  an unidentified young man entered the store and seemed as if he was going to purchase a pack of cigarettes.  However, the clerk suspected the man of having ulterior motives as he was holding one of his hands underneath his clothing.  We may only speculate that the clerk believed, possibly incorrectly, that the individual was armed; he tripped the silent alarm.  When police tried to find the perpetrator, they came upon the Oakland man who was arrested.  Law enforcement officials claim that he was hiding behind a nearby vehicle and, upon being questioned, gave false information.  Remember, a weapon was never seen and the clerk never officially identified the arrested individual as the person they believed to have attempted to rob the store.

The man was charged with felony robbery, sentenced to 3 years in state prison, and given a strike on his record under the California Three Strikes law, all of which have now been removed from his record due to the fact that the defense was not given a sufficient amount of time to produce a key witness.  According to California Penal Code 211,  a violation of this law is always considered a felony and could result in up to 5 years imprisonment in a state facility.


San Francisco: Bicycle Robbers Subject to Charges of Second Degree Robbery (CA Penal Code 211)

The crime of carjacking is not unfamiliar, but bicycle jacking?  Theft of bicycles in the San Francisco Panhandle has become quite a problem for law enforcement officials to deal with.  Reports claim that there has always been a market for stolen bicycles and, thus, this has always been an issue in the area.  However, these thefts were traditionally non-violent.  Now, it seems that bike thieves are becoming a lot more dangerous.  In recent weeks, 3 or more cyclists have been forcibly knocked off of their bikes, one of them at knifepoint, another by a thief sticking a foreign object in the wheel spokes.  Also, these cyclists claim that their wallets, phones, and money are being taken as well.

Depending on the particular set of circumstances and what types of weapons and threats these bicycle thieves are using, they could end up facing a good bit of jail time and hefty fines for their actions.  California law takes this kind of thing very seriously; it falls under the crime of robbery as opposed to theft (CA Penal Code 211).  Under the definition of robbery, property must be taken from another person in their ‘immediate presence’ and through the use of ‘force or fear.’  Violations of this law are always treated as felonies.  A first degree robbery conviction will likely end in up to 9 years in state prison, whereas second degree robbery will result in up to 5 years in state prison.  If identified and caught, the persons responsible for any bicycle jackings in the Panhandle will be subject to charges of second degree robbery.