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Debunking popular myths about bank robbery charges -- III

Over the last two weeks, our blog has been discussing how the crime of robbing a bank -- so often overlooked in the popular press and so often glamorized by Hollywood -- is viewed in the eyes of the law. Specifically, we've focused on how it's defined and why it's treated as a strictly federal crime.

We'll conclude this discussion in today's post, examining the severe punishments called for by federal law for those found guilty of bank robbery or, in other words, why these charges cannot afford to be dismissed by anyone.

What is the punishment if a person is found guilty of taking and carrying away something of value from a bank with the intent of stealing?

By way of illustration, consider a person who grabs a handful of cash from a teller's open drawer and runs out the front door only to be apprehended later by police. Punishment in this case depends upon the amount of property taken.

If the value of the property taken was no more than $1,000, the maximum penalty is a fine and/or up to one year in prison, while if the value of the property exceeds $1,000, the maximum penalty is a fine and/or up to ten years in prison.

What is the punishment if a person is found guilty of taking and carrying away something of value from a bank by force or intimidation with the intent of stealing, but without actually assaulting anyone?

By way of illustration, consider a person who approaches a teller and passes a threatening note demanding money only to be apprehended later by police. Punishment in these types of cases does not depend upon the amount of property taken.

Indeed, the maximum penalty for a conviction in these circumstances is a fine and/or up to 20 years in prison.

What is the punishment if a person is found guilty of taking and carrying away something of value from a bank by force or intimidation with the intent of stealing, and assaults someone in the process?

As a final illustration, consider the classic movie scene where a person robs a bank via a "stickup," or a security guard is knocked out and tied up in order to secure the vault money only to be apprehended by police.

The maximum penalty for a conviction in these circumstances is a fine and/or up to 25 years in prison.    

Here's hoping the foregoing discussion has proven enlightening. As always, if you have questions or concerns relating to a federal investigation, or have been taken into custody by federal officials, consider speaking with a skilled legal professional as soon as possible.

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Darryl A. Goldberg
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