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California Attempted Robbery: Charges & Penalties in 2024

In California, attempted robbery occurs when someone takes steps to commit robbery but, for some reason, does not complete the crime. This could be because they were interrupted, stopped by law enforcement, or for some other reason did not succeed in taking property from another person through force, fear, or intimidation.
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How is Robbery Defined in California?

According to the IECD, robbery in California is a serious crime defined as the unlawful taking of personal property from someone’s possession or immediate vicinity through force or fear [1]. Even attempting to commit robbery is considered a felony in California. Essentially, robbery involves forcibly taking someone’s belongings with the intent to permanently deprive them of it. This can include acts like purse snatching or street muggings, regardless of the value of the stolen item.

With regards to attempted robbery, this happens when an individual endeavours to pilfer money from another person’s pocket but is thwarted before the stolen funds can be successfully acquired. While the crime of robbery remains unfulfilled, the act constitutes an offense classified as an attempted robbery under PC 213(b) IECD stated.

For a robbery to occur, the intent to take the property must be formed before or during the use of force or fear. If the intent is formed after the force or fear is used, it is not considered robbery.

Property is considered within a person’s immediate presence if it is under their physical control and could be kept if not for force or fear. Consent to the taking of property must be given freely and voluntarily, with a clear understanding of the situation. Victims of robbery do not consent to the crime, except in role-playing scenarios.

Fear in the context of robbery refers to the fear of injury to oneself, one’s family, one’s property, immediate injuries to others present during the incident, or harm to their property. The force used in a robbery must exceed the incidental contact necessary to complete the theft.

What is the Punishment for Attempted Robbery in California?

According to SCLG, the penalties for a conviction on attempted robbery charges are one-half of what would have been imposed, had the offense been committed. Because robbery is a serious felony, rather than a misdemeanor, the penalties of a conviction for an attempted robbery are still severe. They involve lengthy stints in state prison rather than county jail [2].

For a first-degree attempted robbery, a conviction can result in up to:

  • 18 months, 2 years, or 3 years in California state prison, and/or
  • $5,000 in fines.

For a second-degree attempted robbery, a conviction can lead to up to:

  • 1 year, 1.5 years, or 2.5 years in state prison, and/or
  • $5,000 in fines.

Sentencing enhancements can further increase the penalties and prison time for an attempted robbery conviction. These enhancements include:

  • The presence of great bodily injury during the offense (Penal Code 12022.7 PC),
  • A strike under California’s three strikes law as a violent felony, or
  • The use of a firearm (Penal Code 12022.53 PC).
  • California saw a 5.7% increase in its violent crime rate, rising from 468 crimes per 100,000 residents in 2021 to 495 in 2022.
  • Robbery and aggravated assault rates surged by 9.9% and 5.2%, respectively, while homicides bucked a two-year upward trend, dropping by 6.1%.
  • Rapes remained relatively stable, with a marginal 0.1% decrease.
  • In 2022, aggravated assaults accounted for 67% of reported violent crimes, robberies for 25%, rapes for 7%, and homicides for 1%.
  • Similar to the national trend, California has experienced a rise in violent crime since the onset of the pandemic. Compared to the pre-COVID rate in 2019 of 436 violent crimes per 100,000 residents, the state’s current violent crime rate reflects a 13.5% increase.
  • Over the decades, California’s violent crime rate has fluctuated. Between 1960 and 1980, rates spiked from 236 to 888 violent crimes per 100,000 residents. Rates dipped in the early 1980s but surged again into the early 1990s. After peaking at 1,115 per 100,000 residents in 1992, the violent crime rate steadily declined, hitting a 50-year low of 391 in 2014. Since then, the rate has been on an upward trajectory, rising in six of the past eight years and currently standing 26.4% higher than in 2014.

Source: Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) [3].

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