In spite of complex surveillance systems and safes that automatically lock, bank robberies still frequently occur in California and across the United States.
Of course, all states have laws that criminalize robbery and other theft related offenses.
However, when a robbery occurs involving a federal institution - it's always a federal offense - since most banks and credit unions are federally insured.
A federal charge of bank robbery is very serious with harsh penalties up to life imprisonment – or even the death penalty.
Therefore, considering the severe penalties for a conviction, you need to take immediate action if you are under investigation or already indicted for bank robbery in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2113.
It should be noted that not every bank, credit union, or savings and loan will qualify under this statute.
The bank that was robbed must either be a member of the Federal Reserve System, or where the deposits are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.
Our skilled federal criminal defense attorneys have decades of experience defending clients in all types of federal crimes.
We will conduct a thorough independent investigation and advise you of your legal rights options. We can utilize pre-trial defense strategies for part of as of plea bargain negotiation and reduction of charges.
To give reader useful information about federal back robbery charges under 18 U.S.C. § 2113, our federal criminal defense law firm is providing an overview below
Description of 18 U.S.C. § 2113 Bank Robbery
Title 18, Section 2113 of the United States Code criminalizes bank robbery and related offenses. Bank robbery is defined as:
- the taking, whether by force or intimidation, of any property or money in the care, custody, control, etc. of any bank, credit union, or savings and loan institution.
Interestingly, bank robbery under 18 U.S.C. § 2113 also includes entering, or attempting to enter, any such financial institution with the intent to commit any felony within affecting the institution in violation of any law of the United States or to commit any larceny, meaning a theft.
Accordingly, while most bank robbery prosecutions will relate to the familiar holding up of the teller with a weapon or taking money or valuables by force, the bank robbery statute is actually broader and encompasses a large scope of felonious conduct in which a bank or related financial institution is victimized.
A lesser-included offense of taking away money or valuables from inside a bank or financial institution, but without the force or fear element required for a traditional robbery charge, is also included in Section 2113.
This lesser offense is punishable by up to one year in federal prison. This lesser offense also applies to individuals who receive, possess, conceal, dispose of, etc. the stolen property taken from a bank.
Difference Between Robbery and Lesser Included Offense
To illustrate the difference between the standard robbery scenario and the lesser included offense, imagine the following set of facts plays out at a local bank branch.
In the first case, the defendant enters the bank and approaches a teller. The defendant tells the teller that he is armed with a firearm and demands that the teller put money in a bag marked “$”.
The teller, fearing for his life, complies with the demand and hands over the money.
The defendant is immediately arrested by security guards. In this case, the defendant is clearly guilty of robbery within the meaning of 18 U.S.C. § 2113 and faces a maximum of at least 20 years in prison, and arguably 25 years as he employed (or at least claimed to employ) a firearm, which is a deadly weapon.
Now imagine the same scenario, only when the defendant approaches the teller, he notices that the teller is distracted by his smartphone.
When the defendant looks closer, he sees a stack of $100 bills sitting in front of the teller.
Thinking he will not be noticed, the defendant grabs the cash and runs for the exit only to be tackled by security and arrested.
The defendant in the second case is still guilty of a federal crime under Section 2113, but faces only the lesser-included offense punishment of one year in federal prison, as he employed neither force nor fear in his attempt to steal money from the bank.
Penalties for Federal Bank Robbery
Bank robbery is a serious criminal charge under federal law. If convicted, the defendant faces:
- a maximum of 20 years in federal prison, plus a fine
- If violence is used in the offense, even more severe punishments attach
If the defendant assaults anyone during the commission of the robbery, or puts anyone's life in danger by using a deadly or dangerous weapon or device, the maximum punishment increases to 25 years.
If, either during the robbery itself or during the defendant's attempt to escape, someone is killed or forcibly moved against their consent, i.e. kidnapped, a mandatory minimum ten-year federal prison sentence applies and the maximum punishment becomes either life in prison or death.
Fighting Federal Bank Robbery Charges
Common defenses to federal bank robbery include mistaken identity, i.e. you were not the person who actually robbed the bank.
Another defense includes duress, i.e. someone threatened you or someone you love with imminent physical harm if you did not agree to participate in the robbery.
Yet another defense is lack of intent, i.e. you did not intend to take any property or money from the bank.
In cases where it is unclear whether force or intimidation occurs, the defendant could also argue at trial that they are guilty only of the lesser-included offense of taking property or money from the bank or financial institution but not of robbery, thereby avoiding the much more serious penalties associated with the later conduct.
Federal bank robbery under 18 U.S.C. § 2113 is a serious federal crime which, depending on the circumstances, can carry punishment including life in prison or even the death penalty.
If you or a family member is facing charges for federal bank robbery, our experienced criminal defense attorneys can consult with you immediately regarding the steps required to protect your rights and give you the best possibility of a positive outcome in your case.
Even in the investigative stage, before formal charges are filed, immediate intervention by a qualified advocate can improve the chances of a successful outcome.
Eisner Gorin LLP is a top-ranked criminal defense law firm with a track record of success. Call us (310) 328-3776 for a consultation.