California Penal Code §211 defines robbery as “the felonious taking of personal property in the possession of another, from his person or immediate presence, and against his will, accomplished by means of force or fear.”

Federal law defines robbery under 18 U.S. Code §§2111-2119. The federal definition of robbery is substantially similar to the California Penal Code. However, federal law includes taking by “intimidation.” Other significant distinctions between federal and state law include where the robbery occurs (federal jurisdiction), the type of property stolen (federal property), and the person robbed (federal employee).

If the robbery or attempted robbery comes within the federal definition, such as the robbery of a bank or post office, the defendant may be charged with both federal and state burglary. That means a defendant may be separately tried, convicted, and sentenced in federal and state courts.

Federal and state burglary is separated into parts, called “elements,” which include:

Unlawful taking;
Personal property in another’s presence;
From his person or presence;
Without consent; and
By force, fear, or intimidation.

If the prosecution fails to prove any element, the defendant cannot be convicted.

A seasoned robbery attorney will counsel you regarding federal and state robbery as applied to your unique case.

Burden of Proof: Beyond Reasonable Doubt

Federal and state crimes require the same burden of proof, which is the legal standard to which a party must prove its case; the burden of proof is “beyond reasonable doubt.” The prosecution must prove every element of robbery beyond a reasonable doubt to convict. Your Fresno theft lawyer will thoroughly explain reasonable doubt to you.


Federal and state conviction(s) are punishable by imprisonment and/or fines. The length of imprisonment is determined by whether the conviction is in the first or second degree, and whether the defendant has prior convictions. A federal conviction generally carries more severe punishment.

If you are facing robbery or attempted robbery charges, you should not speak to anyone about your case without an attorney present to preserve your rights. Anything you say may be used to incriminate you at trial or through other legal proceedings.

A skilled robbery attorney will strategize with you regarding your plea, testimony, and available defenses to achieve an acquittal of this serious crime.