Anytime a person uses force or violence against a pursuing officer or store employee after committing an attempted shoplifting crime, there is the risk that the offense could be elevated from simple petty theft to Estes Robbery, a felony offense that can result in a significant prison sentence, substantial fines and other life-changing consequences. Every aspect of your life can be affected by a felony conviction, including your personal relationships, your career, your immigration status, your child custody rights, and more, and an Estes Robbery conviction is no exception. If you or a loved one is facing Estes Robbery charges or other theft-related charges in Los Angeles, consult our skilled defense lawyers at Criminal Defense Attorney Los Angeles today for a free consultation. Our law firm is committed to protecting the rights of clients facing wrongful Estes Robbery charges and will work tirelessly to help you build a strong defense in your case.
Affordable Estes Robbery Defense Attorney in Los Angeles
Estes Robbery is a crime of petty theft that escalates into violent felony robbery, due to certain factors that make the initial offense far more serious, including the use of force, violence or intimidation against another person to escape capture. Defending Estes Robbery cases can be extremely difficult, especially if the other person is injured by your alleged behavior, or if a gun is involved in the crime, either of which can add 10 or more years to the maximum prison sentence associated with Estes Robbery charges. If you are under investigation for Estes Robbery in California, our Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys will ensure that your legal rights are protected throughout the process and can attempt to have your charges reduced to a lesser offense or possibly even thrown out altogether. For example, in some cases where a California shoplifter’s use of force was minor, the prosecution may elect to bring charges of commercial burglary, also known as second-degree burglary, rather than Estes Robbery.
There are many different criminal acts that can result in robbery, theft or burglary charges in Los Angeles, but Estes Robbery is unique in that it combines certain aspects of several different crimes, including shoplifting, petty theft and robbery. Under California law, an Estes Robbery is a robbery that takes place when a thief or shoplifter attempts to commit petty theft by taking merchandise from store and then uses violence or force against a security guard or loss prevention officer to get away. Under these circumstances, what would otherwise be considered a misdemeanor petty theft (shoplifting) offense punishable by up to six months in county jail, is now a felony Estes Robbery crime, punishable by up to five years or more in California state prison.
The term “Estes Robbery” is used in cases such as this because of a 1983 court case, in which a man named Curtis Estes attempted to shoplift merchandise from a Sears and Roebuck store in Vallejo, California. Estes, who would have otherwise been charged with petty theft for his attempted shoplifting crime, was pursued by store security and ended up pulling a knife, waving it in the security guard’s direction and threatening his life. Estes was ultimately convicted on charges of petty theft and robbery with a deadly weapon, and since that time, similar offenses of shoplifting gone wrong have been referred to as “Estes Robbery” crimes.
Conviction for Estes Robbery Penal Code § 211
When facing California Estes Robbery charges, it may seem like the evidence against you is irrefutable. You were caught running from a store after stealing merchandise, and when the store employee or security guard tried to stop you, you used force or violence against him or her to aid in your escape. California prosecutors routinely file cases like this as Estes Robbery instead of petty theft, even if no one was injured and only threats of violence or harm were made. However, being charged with Estes Robbery does not automatically mean you are guilty of the crime and any element of the criminal offense that is not completely certain can work in your favor. In order to find you guilty of Estes Robbery under Penal Code § 211 PC, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:
- You took property that did not belong to you;
- The property was in the possession of another person;
- You took the property against the other person’s will;
- You took the property from the other person in his or her immediate presence;
- You used fear, intimidation, violence or force to prevent the other person from resisting; and
- You intended to permanently deprive the other person of the property.
If the prosecutor is unable to prove one or more elements of the crime, you cannot be convicted of Estes Robbery. For instance, if a criminal defense attorney can cast doubt on your guilt regarding your intention to permanently deprive the owner of the property, or your use of fear, violence or intimidation to evade capture, you may be able to beat the charges.
How is Estes Robbery Different from Shoplifting and Petty Theft?
Petty theft (Penal Code § 484(a) PC) is the unlawful taking of money or property valued at $950 or less belonging to another person with the intent to permanently deprive that person of its use and enjoyment. Shoplifting (Penal Code § 459.5 PC) is a separate offense that includes the act of entering a commercial establishment or business during regular business hours with the intent to commit petty theft. Robbery (Penal Code § 211 PC), on the other hand, involves the taking of another person’s personal property from his or her immediate presence using intimidation, force or violence.
As you can see, the crimes of shoplifting, petty theft and robbery are all different, with different elements to each offense. However, California Estes Robbery combines certain components of each of these crimes, making it a sort of hybrid offense. An example of Estes Robbery would be if a young woman enters a store, conceals merchandise under her coat with the intent to steal it, and walks out of the store. When she is confronted by security or loss prevention officers, the woman exhibits harmful, violent or intimidating behavior in an attempt to get away. This momentary lapse in judgment or split-second overreaction to a shoplifting attempt gone wrong can elevate an offense from a minor misdemeanor to felony robbery.
Penalties for an Estes Robbery Conviction
Shoplifting may seem like a minor offense, and while it’s true that most shoplifting crimes carry relatively light penalties, shoplifting charges can escalate quickly, especially if the defendant uses force against a security guard or store employee to avoid being detained. In the state of California, Estes Robbery is charged as second-degree robbery, a felony offense punishable by two, three or five years in state prison and/or up to $10,000 in fines. Estes Robbery is also considered a “strike” offense under California’s “Three Strikes” law, which imposes longer prison sentences for certain repeat offenders convicted of serious or violent felonies. In cases where an Estes Robbery offense involves the use of a gun, the maximum prison sentence could be increased by 10 years if the defendant displays the gun, or by 20 years if the defendant actually discharges the gun during the course of the crime. If the defendant discharges the gun and injures another person, the maximum prison sentence could be increase by 25 years to life.
Defenses to Estes Robbery Charges
Robbery is a serious crime prosecuted as a felony offense in California, and Estes Robbery carries the same penalties as any other robbery offense. However, with a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney on your side, you may be able to successful fight the charges pending against you and avoid a devastating felony robbery conviction. Because there are several different aspects to an Estes Robbery crime – the theft plus the force – there are opportunities for a criminal defense attorney to poke holes in the prosecution’s case against you. The following are some examples of defense strategies that may be effective in fighting Los Angeles Estes Robbery charges:
- You were falsely accused
- You are a victim of mistaken identity
- You had an honest and good faith belief that you had a right to the property you allegedly took
- You didn’t use force or fear to take the property
- The person you supposedly took the property from was not present at the time of the alleged crime
- You were not present during the commission of the crime
- You were not actually involved in the crime
Hiring a Qualified Estes Robbery Defense Attorney in Los Angeles
The state of California prosecutes Estes Robbery as a violent crime, and a felony conviction on Estes Robbery charges can follow you for the rest of your life, possibly affecting your freedom, your family, your career, and other important aspects of your life. If you are facing Estes Robbery charges in Los Angeles, you should hire Criminal Defense Attorney Los Angeles to defend your case. Our experienced California defense attorneys can ensure that you understand the criminal charges pending against you and inform you of the most effective defense strategies to use in Estes Robbery cases. Contact Criminal Defense Attorney Los Angeles today for a free initial robbery defense consultation.