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.