Second-Degree Robbery in California – Laws and Penalties

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Robbery in the second degree in California is a serious offense. If convicted, you could serve several years in prison.

Additionally, you could qualify for punishment under California’s Three-Strikes law, which means you will get a life sentence.

If you face these harsh consequences because of a robbery charge, you need to obtain the advice of an experienced and knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer to help you fight your case. 

In San Diego, the Law Offices of Kerry L. Armstrong, APLC, is the name you can trust to defend your robbery charges aggressively.

San Diego criminal defense attorney Kerry L. Armstrong received a certification from the State Bar of California as a specialist in criminal defense.

He is one of the few in Southern California who earned that special honor. Kerry and his staff have nearly 40 years of experience trying over 100 cases to a judge or jury.

Put their experience in your corner by calling 619-439-0912 or contacting us online for more information. 

What Is Robbery in the Second Degree? 

Before delving into the definition of robbery in the second degree, we first need to define robbery.

According to California Penal Code §211, robbery is the taking of another’s property that is on their person or within their immediate control. To qualify as robbery, this taking must be accomplished by the use of force or fear.

According to Penal Code §212, the element of fear is present if the victim fears unlawful injury to their own person or property—or harm to the person or property of a relative or another person present during the robbery.

California law classifies robbery as either first degree or second degree.

First-degree robbery involves robbing a person operating a train, rail car, taxicabs, buses, rideshare cars, or the passengers of those vehicles.

First-degree robbery also includes breaking into an inhabited dwelling, houseboat, trailer coach, and an inhabited portion of a building.

Additionally, robbing a person while they are at an ATM or immediately after the person left the ATM and remained in the vicinity is robbery in the first degree. 

Under Penal Code §212.5, second-degree robberies are all robberies that are not classified as first-degree robberies.

Examples of Second Degree Robbery

There are many common examples of second-degree robbery. Examples can include:

  • Bank robbery;
  • Store robbery;
  • Strong Arm robbery, also known as unarmed robbery; and
  • Purse snatching.

Committing any of these offenses with a weapon, such as a gun or a knife, can add years to your sentence.

Second Degree Robbery Sentence

Robbery consequences in California, both first degree and second-degree robberies are considered felonies in California.

Enhancement charges can be added on if a firearm, assault weapon, or machine gun is used, adding up to another 10 years minimum to the sentence, but likely more.

If the weapon was discharged during the robbery, then years could be added on. You could even end up in prison under California’s 10-20-Life rule.

Committing a robbery with a knife can tack on another year to your prison sentence as well. 

Second-degree robbery jail time can involve a sentence of two, three, to five years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.

Second-degree robbery is always a felony and is not a “wobbler” offense. However, the judge has some discretion in sentencing and can use other options if they feel it is warranted in your case.

A formal or felony probation is an alternative sentence that requires a convicted person of the felony to spend time in the community under supervision.

This is an alternative to spending a sentence in jail. A probation term can be three to five years. Under probation terms, the person must complete the following:

  • Commit no other crimes (other than simple traffic infractions),
  • Commit to regularly scheduled visits to a probation officer, as set by the court,
  • Perform community services, and
  • Pay restitution (typically, financial) to the victim.

The judge can impose other terms, but whatever is set in place, must be observed fully by the convicted person, or a full-sentence will be imposed as determined by a judge.

In most cases, probation terms are not offered in first-degree robbery convictions.

Three Strikes Law in California

If you conduct another robbery, you will receive a doubled sentence from what you received the first time. In a third robbery, the sentence is automatically raised to a minimum of 25 years to life in prison.

Neither situation will be eligible for a formal or felony probation term.

The amendment for the enactment of the Three Strikes Sentencing Law occurred in 1994 and was modified after the November election in 2012.

The changes consisted of two major points:

  • The first point: only those convictions of the third felony had to be a serious or violent felony to qualify for the 25 years to life in a prison sentence.
  • The second point: allowed those currently serving a third strike sentence to petition the court for a sentence reduction down to a second-strike level.

In any case of robbery, the prosecutor must prove beyond a question of doubt that you were the perpetrator in the robbery.

Contact a San Diego Defense Attorney Today

As you can see, avoiding a conviction for second-degree robbery is essential to protecting your freedom.

An experienced robbery defense attorney can help protect your future by aggressively defending your rights.

If you have been charged with a robbery in the San Diego area, the Law Office of Kerry Armstrong, APLC, can help.

Our California criminal defense attorneys have more than 35 years of combined experience on our side. To get started, call us at (619) 514-0267 or contact us online.

Author Photo

Kerry L. Armstrong


Attorney Kerry Armstrong opened up his law firm in June 2007. Mr. Armstrong attended Thomas Jefferson School of Law, San Diego, California, and received his B.S. from Middle Tennessee State University. Kerry L. Armstrong became certified by the State Bar of California’s Board of Legal Specialization for criminal law in August 2020, making him one of the few criminal defense attorneys with a criminal law legal specialization certificate in San Diego County.  Between 2014 – 2019, Mr. Armstrong was selected for inclusion in the California Super Lawyers list, an honor only awarded to 5% of the nation’s attorneys.