Accused of robbing a bank? Talk to the top Chicago bank robbery attorneys for advice on federal bank robbery cases. Call our criminal defense lawyers at (312) 466-9466.
Bank robbery is always a federal offense. 18 U.S.C. Section 2113(a). To establish a bank robbery, the prosecution must prove that a person took or tried to take money or property from a federally insured institution. This included credit unions and savings and loan associations (see United States v. Locklear, 97 F.3d 196, 199 [7th Cir. 1996]). Even robbery of ATMs qualifies as a bank robbery (see United States v. McCarter, 406 F.3d 460, 462-3 [7th Cir. 2005]). Taking money by fraud or larceny does not qualify as a bank robbery and is a different crime.
Bank robbery does not require the use of a dangerous weapon. 18 U.S.C. Section 2113(a). However, a person's sentence increases substantially if a dangerous weapon is used. Courts have ruled that harmless objects appearing to be weapons trigger the enhancement (United States v. Hargrove, 201 F.3d 966 [7th Cir. 2000]). If a co-defendant uses the weapon, the enhancement will apply to any defendant who knew or should have known about the use of the dangerous weapon.
Another factor that will increase a sentence is if a "threat of death" is made. A simple statement such as "I have a gun" or even a gesture will trigger the enhancement. Steven R. Hunter successfully defeated the enhancement for the driver of a get-away vehicle who did not know that the co-defendant was going to give the teller a note with a bomb threat. The trial court ruled that the threat of force was reasonably foreseeable because force or the threat of force is likely in all bank robberies. However, the appellate court reversed this ruling and returned the case to the trial court for a new, lower sentence.
Bank robbery has many possible defenses which are common to other crimes, such as mistaken identity or alibi. Even if a case does not look a promising trial because of video, dye packs, marked bills or other factors, it is crucial to have an experienced criminal defense attorney such as Steven R. Hunter to fight for the defendant at sentencing. Bank robbery involves many sentencing factors which can dramatically increase a person's sentence. Call today for an office consultation to make sure that you or a loved one are treated fairly.
Most robberies are charged in state court, not federal court. Because the penalties are much smaller in state court, this is an advantage to defendants. Unfortunately, the Hobbs Act states that it is a federal crime to obstruct, delay or affect commerce or the movement of items in commerce or attempt to do so by means of robbery, extortion or violence.
Courts have interpreted the idea of affecting commerce very broadly. Almost any robbery can be a federal offense if a federal prosecutor wants it to be. For example, federal courts have ruled that a robbery of a drug dealer affected interstate commerce and was therefore properly in federal court (see United States v. Thomas, 159 F.3d 296 [7th Cir. 1998]).
In practice, most robberies go to state court, but not all. The Law Office of Steven R. Hunter has defended an alleged mob hit man and a former Chicago police officer against Hobbs Act robberies and firearms charges. These cases were in federal court because of who the defendants were, rather than anything special about the alleged crimes. The robbery charges, in conjunction with the firearms offenses, put each defendant at risk for decades in prison. Hobbs Act robberies are extremely serious and require expert legal defense. Call the Law Office of Steven R. Hunter today at 312-466-9466 to find out how we can help you or a loved one fight your case.