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Debunking popular myths about bank robbery charges -- II

Last week, our blog began discussing bank robbery, a crime that seems to generate little news coverage owing to the frequency with which it is perpetrated, and has long been glamorized in popular films and television shows. We also explored how this reality sometimes causes people to view it as a viable option if they've fallen on hard times, meaning they believe that the risk is worth is worth it, as the stakes are relatively low in the event they are apprehended.

As we'll continue exploring in today's post, this is a huge mistake, as bank robbery is a strictly federal crime, such that the stakes are actually incredibly high.

How does federal law define bank robbery?

In general, federal law expressly prohibits the taking of property, money or any other items of value from a bank, credit union, or savings and loan association by "force, intimidation or extortion."

It similarly prohibits the taking and carrying away of any property, money or other items of value from these three types of institutions with the intent to "steal or purloin," meaning to permanently deprive them of possession.

What's the difference between a bank, credit union, and savings and loan association?

Banks are defined as any member of the Federal Reserve System, other banking institution (banking association, trust company, foreign bank branches, etc.) covered by federal law, or institution whose deposits are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

Credit unions are defined as federal credit union or state-chartered credit union whose accounts are insured by the National Credit Union Administrative Board.

Lastly, saving and loan associations are defined as any federal savings association, state savings association whose accounts are insured by the FDIC, or corporation covered under the Federal Deposit Insurance Act.

The reason for these highly technical and distinct definitions is essentially to cast as wide a net as possible to prosecute bank robbery. Indeed, these distinctions don't actually matter when it comes to punishment for a conviction.

We'll conclude this discussion next week, examining the various severe punishments called for by federal law for those found guilty of bank robbery.

In the meantime, always consider speaking with an experienced legal professional as soon as possible if you have been arrested for any federal crime as your freedom and your future are at stake. 

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Darryl A. Goldberg
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