Shortly after 12 p.m. on Saturday, February 16, Joe’s Liquor in Canyon Country was robbed by a masked suspect. According to reports, several calls reporting a potential robbery came in at about 12:40 p.m., and deputies rushed to the scene. Witnesses describe a man wearing a black ski mask, armed with a handgun who had a “darker skin tone” fleeing from the scene mere minutes before police arrived.
Deputies searched the area to no avail, and it’s believed that the suspect escaped with several thousand dollars. Law enforcement’s efforts to locate the victim were hamstrung by staff at the liquor store who sent the surveillance video to a third party before showing it to SCV Sheriff Station deputies. Without any information on what the suspect looked like, their build, etc. deputies were forced to search the area with inadequate identifying information on the suspect.
Robbery is covered under California Penal Code 211 PC and is described as taking personal property from someone else or their immediate presence, without their permission, through the use of force or fear. An interesting fact about PC 211 is that, in order for an action to count as robbery, the suspect must intend to deprive the owner of the property permanently or for long enough that the owner of the property would be denied a major portion of its value or enjoyment.
For example, suppose a man is playing Frisbee with his new girlfriend’s son and the Frisbee gets caught in a tree. The little boy starts to cry and the man doesn’t want his new girlfriend to think he made the boy cry, but the Frisbee is caught in the tree just out of reach.
Suddenly, the man notices a woman walking down the sidewalk with her purse and, not one to ignore opportunity when it knocks, he asks the woman if he can use her purse to knock down the Frisbee. The lady, not willing to give her purse over to a random stranger, naturally declines. The sobs of the child grow louder, and the man begins to panic because he knows the boy’s mother will hear sooner or later. So, he pulls out a knife and threatens to cut the woman if she doesn’t give him her purse. Naturally, she gives her purse to the man who uses it to knock the Frisbee out of the tree and silence the child. The man then gives the purse back to the woman.
The situation above describes a scenario in which someone takes personal property from the possession of another person against their will. However, the man in the story would probably not be charged with robbery because he didn’t intend to deprive the woman of her purse permanently. He would, however, likely be charged with another crime. Threatening people is not the way to get them to let you borrow things, even if it’s for a moment.
Robbery is divided into two separate crimes, first-degree robbery and second-degree robbery. First-degree robbery is charged if the victim is the driver or passenger of some sort of transportation for hire (taxi, bus, cable car, etc.), the robbery takes place in an inhabited dwelling, or the robbery takes place during or immediately after the victim uses an ATM. The possible penalties include felony probation, three to six years in California state prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
Second-degree robbery is defined as any robbery that does not meet the criteria for first-degree robbery. The possible penalties include: felony probation, two to five years in California state prison, and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
Since the suspect allegedly used a firearm during the robbery, the potential sentence is significantly enhanced under California’s “10-20-Life Use a Gun and You’re Done Law.” Under this law, using a gun during a robbery enhances the prison sentence to 10 years, firing a gun during a robbery enhances the prison sentence to 20 years, and 25 years to life for causing great bodily injury or death by using a gun during a robbery.