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Robbery in the first degree in California is when personal property is taken from another person or that person’s presence and is achieved by force or fear of injury or death. This is covered by California Penal Code § 211 and is considered a felony.

The robbery takes place in a person’s living space or area of habitation, which can be a house, a houseboat designed as a living space, or a trailer coach, and there are two or more other people who come with the robber. The felony penalty is imprisonment in the state prison from three, four, or six years, depending on the circumstances, as defined by C.P.C. § 213.

If the weapon used is considered an assault weapon or a machine gun, this adds on another three years to the sentence


This is a felony crime of a vehicle from a person in possession of one’s vehicle through means of force or fear of threatened injury or death. This is covered by California Penal Code § 215 and is punishable by imprisonment for three, five, or nine years in the state prison.

The Use of Firearms and Ammunition in a Robbery

When firearms and accompanying ammunition are used during a robbery, the sentence can be much higher. California Disciplinary Code §12022 is an enhancement to the sentence imposed by the felony robbery and an extra year, up to 10 years added on.

When ammunition is also loaded in the firearm while in the commission of the robbery, this adds on another year. If the weapon used is considered an assault weapon or a machine gun, this adds on another three years to the sentence, as covered by California Penal Code § 12022.2 at the same link above. In first degree robbery, the fine likely includes a $10,000 fine

This law also states that any person accompanying the armed robber, will be viewed as equally liable and face the same sentence as the person in possession of a firearm or assault weapon. If the robber shoots a victim, causing serious injury, including death, the penalty is likely 25 years to life imprisonment.

When Juveniles are Involved: A Scenario

John, who was 14 years old, had started hanging out with some older kids at his school. They were Bob, 17, Jason, who was 16, and Billy, who was also 16. One Saturday night while at Bob’s house, Bob suggested hanging out on Main Street downtown, plus he wanted to pick up cigarettes from a small family grocery store.

They headed to Main Street where they just hung out walking around and occasionally, standing, to watch the people go by. Then they went to the store, so Bob could get cigarettes.

When everyone got inside, John and Jason went to the back to look at soft drinks and decide what they wanted. Suddenly, the two boys heard a ruckus down front and heard Bob’s voice shouting at the salesperson to give him the cigarettes. Then they heard shots fired and both crouched down, scared that they might get shot.

When there was silence, the boys went up front and saw Bob dead on the floor with a handgun in his hand. The owner of the store, who was standing next to the salesperson, had shot Bob. He then held his gun on the two boys although Billy was nowhere to be seen.

When the police arrived, both boys were taken down to the station and both called their parents who called their attorneys to meet them at the station. The boys were to be charged with felony robbery with a firearm even though they had not been upfront with Bob when it happened.

They were later discharged from the station but would have to meet with a judge in the next few days, with the hope of being put on probation and supervision, instead of time in jail.

If you or one of your children has been charged with armed robbery, call us at once. 619-234-2300

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.

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