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Debunking popular myths about bank robbery charges

Bank robbery is a crime that you often see covered briefly covered and pay little attention to given that it seems to occur so often, seldom involves physical harm and fits the definition of the so-called "victimless crime."

If you have a hard time believing this, think about the last time you saw a report on the 10 pm news discussing a robbery at a local bank branch. Chances are you good that it didn't receive more than 10-15 seconds of coverage as part of a local "crime roundup" story, and featured nothing more than a brief description of the incident, a grainy surveillance picture and a promise that law enforcement was investigating. Indeed, your thoughts were likely focused more focused on the imminent weather forecast.

It's this reality coupled with the tendency of certain films and television shows to almost glamorize bank robbery that causes many people to dismiss the severity of the crime, or worse, consider it as a possible option if they have fallen on hard times.

In today's post, the first in a series, we'll spend some time discussing more about the severity of bank robbery charges and, as a result, why they cannot afford to be dismissed by anyone.

What is robbery?

Any discussion of bank robbery must be prefaced by a brief examination of how the crime of robbery itself is typically defined under the law.

In general, the elements of robbery include:

  1. Taking or attempting to take;
  2. the property of another;
  3. through the use of intimidation, violence or threat of violence; and
  4. with the intent of permanently depriving them of its use.

Is bank robbery treated as a state crime or a federal crime?

For the most part, robbery is treated as a state crime that is divided into several degrees based upon such factors as the amount taken and/or the amount of force used.

However, there are certain forms of robbery that fall entirely under federal jurisdiction, including hijacking trucks carrying goods to another state, which falls under interstate commerce, and robbing banks, credit unions or savings and loan associations, which fall under federal banking laws.

As we've discussed before, federal crimes carry more serious consequences.

We'll continue this discussion in our next post …

If you are under investigation or have already been arrested for any manner of federal offense, consider speaking with a skilled legal professional as soon as possible. The stakes are simply too high to go it alone.

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Darryl A. Goldberg
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