Tips from the public recently lead to the arrest of a suspect in a Newhall massage parlor robbery.
Shortly after noon on Thursday, July 11th, L. Gonzalez, 22, of Santa Clarita, was arrested by police on suspicion of armed robbery for the crime that occurred at a Newhall massage parlor on June 27th. According to police, Gonzalez went to the business where he received a massage. When it was time to pay, he allegedly brandished a firearm in his waistband and robbed the place instead. Fortunately, the entire incident was caught on camera.
On Wednesday July 10th, deputies released images of the suspect in hopes that the public would provide information regarding his whereabouts – and they did. Tips began to come in quickly and, within 24 hours, deputies had tracked down and arrested Gonzalez. He is currently being held in lieu of $100,000 bond.
Robbery is covered under California Penal Code 211 PC and is described as taking property from someone’s person or immediate presence, against the victim’s will, through the use of force or fear. The definition of robbery in California includes the classic image of robbing a liquor store or gas station at gunpoint, but it also extends to some surprising situations.
One child intimidating another into giving up their lunch money could constitute a robbery charge if reported to police
Stealing someone’s possessions after drugging them
After being caught trying to steal something (an offense that would otherwise be petty theft/grand theft), threatening the owner of said property with harm in order to get away
As you can see, what makes something robbery isn’t so much the stealing as it is the way in which something is stolen. When you use force or fear, whether via threats or actual violence, you’re committing the crime of robbery. When you do not, you’re committing the crime of theft (whether its petty theft or grand theft will depend on the value of the item(s) stolen).
Similar to burglary, robbery is divided into two separate classifications: first-degree robbery and second-degree robbery. First-degree robbery is charged when the victim is the driver or passenger in a bus, taxi, cable car, street car or other similar vehicle; the robbery takes place in an inhabited house, boat or trailer, or; the robbery takes place immediately after the victim uses an ATM. First-degree robbery is always a felony and 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 charged in any other case of robbery that does not fit into the classification for first-degree robbery. The potential penalties include felony probation, two to five years in California state prison, and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
Of course, using a gun in any type of robbery subjects the defendant to greatly enhanced penalties if convicted. Under California’s 10-20-Life Law, using a gun in a robbery nets the suspect an additional 10 years in prison. Firing the weapon in a robbery adds 20 years, and a sentence of 25 years to life is added if the defendant inflicts great bodily injury or death on someone while using a firearm during a robbery.
Since Gonzalez didn’t fire his weapon during the robbery, and just had it in his pants, it’s likely he will only face an additional 10 years in prison – which is itself enough.
Finally, robbery is considered a violent felony in California. Therefore, when convicted, defendants will receive a “strike” on their record under California’s Three Strikes Law. Additionally, anyone with a robbery conviction on their record will face twice the normal sentence if charged with another subsequent felony.