View Full Version : Can you get probation for multiple robbery convictions in California


amichelle
11-28-2008, 10:09 PM
My son was just found guilty of 7 robbery (felony) convictions (4 in one count; 4 victims during the same robbery) in L.A. He has no prior record or arrests. His atty will request (a) probation; then if not granted, (b) minimal sentence and probation. How likely is it that he will get probation at sentencing? What about joint suspension?

Albee Damned
12-03-2008, 04:56 PM
My son was just found guilty of 7 robbery (felony) convictions (4 in one count; 4 victims during the same robbery) in L.A. He has no prior record or arrests. His atty will request (a) probation; then if not granted, (b) minimal sentence and probation. How likely is it that he will get probation at sentencing? What about joint suspension?

Chance at probation: None

Chance at suspended sentence: None

I'm not trying to be harsh, that is the reality as I see it. First of all, he was convicted of 7 counts of robbery, with 4 counts occurring from one incident. That means that the other three counts stemmed from one other incident AT MINIMUM. So he has at least two robbery "incidents". Chances at probation for conviction of one count of strong-arm (no weapon) robbery (i.e. one incident with one victim) are next to zero as is. And by robbing 4 people at one time, he probably was armed or faked being armed. Which brings prison term enhancements.

Robbery of any kind is a violent offense. He picked up 7 strikes from these convictions. I see no alternative than a pretty substantial prison term. Unless there are some very special circumstances or the robberies were very minor (i.e. a bully shaking down kids for lunch money), I don't even see why the attorney would ask for probation. S/he should aim for something that is actually realistic. Even if all 7 counts are sentenced concurrently, the minimum sentence for robbery is 2 years. So he would be looking at 2 years under the most lenient sentencing conditions.

I hope your son wasn't armed, especially with a gun. Armed enhancements will put him in prison longer, and gun enhancements will put him away for MUCH longer. I wish you and your son the best.

Albee

ChocoholicMom
12-03-2008, 05:46 PM
Yeah - my husband did 4 years at 85% for 1 robbery conviction... it is a violent offense and ONLY punishable by state prison time. Probation in this case would be SERIOUSLY unlikely.

Albee Damned
12-03-2008, 06:43 PM
Yeah - my husband did 4 years at 85% for 1 robbery conviction... it is a violent offense and ONLY punishable by state prison time. Probation in this case would be SERIOUSLY unlikely.

By CA Penal Code, you can get probation for 2nd degree felony burglary. You can actually get probation for 1st degree felony burglary, but it must be "an unusual case where the interests of justice are best served by probation" and not prison, and the sentencing judge has to state in the court record the reasons for not imposing prison time. There is no such provision for probation for any type of robbery.

Gryphon
12-04-2008, 01:28 PM
It is in fact possible to get probation on a PC 211 (Robbery) with the right facts. (Probation means that it carries up to 1 yr. in the county jail in lieu of prison. It is even theoretically possible to recieve probation on a Murder conviction. Where statutes say that a crime is "probation ineligible, there are other code sections that talk about "unusual circumstances"; and there are limits to what a legislature can tell a Judge to do or else there's a violation of Separation of Powers.)
The right facts might include a Robbery where the force used happened AFTER the theft, as where a petty thief pulls away from store security after being caught. (Robbery happens where force or fear is used in the taking or any time up until a "point of safety" has been reached.)
I once got probation for an 18 yr. old client who used a fake gun to rob a pizza place.
"Petty theft gone wrong" robberies are often negotiated to instead be PC 459 2nd (Commercial Burglary), which isn't a strike.

It is very very difficult (close to impossible) to get probation on a "stick 'em up" type robbery.

A suspended prison sentence is a potential probation condition resulting from plea negotiation. It isn't a possibility unless the court is willing to impose a probation grant.

... it is a violent offense and ONLY punishable by state prison time.

Albee Damned
12-04-2008, 02:45 PM
It is in fact possible to get probation on a PC 211 (Robbery) with the right facts. (Probation means that it carries up to 1 yr. in the county jail in lieu of prison. It is even theoretically possible to recieve probation on a Murder conviction. Where statutes say that a crime is "probation ineligible, there are other code sections that talk about "unusual circumstances"; and there are limits to what a legislature can tell a Judge to do or else there's a violation of Separation of Powers.)
The right facts might include a Robbery where the force used happened AFTER the theft, as where a petty thief pulls away from store security after being caught. (Robbery happens where force or fear is used in the taking or any time up until a "point of safety" has been reached.)
I once got probation for an 18 yr. old client who used a fake gun to rob a pizza place.
"Petty theft gone wrong" robberies are often negotiated to instead be PC 459 2nd (Commercial Burglary), which isn't a strike.

It is very very difficult (close to impossible) to get probation on a "stick 'em up" type robbery.

A suspended prison sentence is a potential probation condition resulting from plea negotiation. It isn't a possibility unless the court is willing to impose a probation grant.

When you got probation for the kid with the fake gun, was that a result of a plea from a PC 211 charge down to something less serious?

And why do the statutes for burglary explicitly specify that probation is (remotely) possible for residential burglary, whereas the ones for robbery don't?

Finally, isn't the purpose of determinate sentencing the elimination of sentencing discrepancies? By allowing the judge enough discretion to grant probation for a robbery conviction when it doesn't explicitly state this is an option in the statutes (as it does for burglary), doesn't that defeat the whole purpose of determinate sentencing?

Thanks in advance!

Albee

Gryphon
12-04-2008, 05:40 PM
"When you got probation for the kid with the fake gun, was that a result of a plea from a PC 211 charge down to something less serious?" The plea was to a 211. However, as I recall a condition to that plea was that just before probation ended the court may consider reduction to a 459 2nd. Mitigating factors were the defendant's age (barely 18), lack of criminal history, and an air-soft gun. The well connected, wealthy, noisy parents helped some as well.
That was the worst set of 211 facts I've seen where teh sentence didn't end up being CDCR.

"And why do the statutes for burglary explicitly specify that probation is (remotely) possible for residential burglary, whereas the ones for robbery don't?"
These are the same people that decided methamphetamine possession will "wobble" to a misdemeanor yet cocaine is a straight felony. Grand Theft Kelp/Plankton gets an on-point statute, as do artichokes. It is criminal to place any electrical device into any orifice of an elephant (you wouldn't think that comes up all that often.)
I can't even keep track of all the things that seem strange, and some laws make no sense at all. Sometimes it seems like they pass goofy laws just to see if anyone is paying attention.
In this case, my best guess is that since 211 is by definition violent, the legislature wanted to make a statement that they felt it had to be a prison sentence. However, if that were really the case, the attempt to limit the court's sentencing powers apparently would have violated Separation of Powers. A clearer example of a Separation of Powers issue is when the legislature told the courts that they HAD to impose 25 to life terms on all third strikers. The Romero case came down, declaring that part of the law to violate separation of powers (since courts have inherent power to do the right thing under PC 1385.)


"Finally, isn't the purpose of determinate sentencing the elimination of sentencing discrepancies? By allowing the judge enough discretion to grant probation for a robbery conviction when it doesn't explicitly state this is an option in the statutes (as it does for burglary), doesn't that defeat the whole purpose of determinate sentencing?"
No. Determinate sentencing is in place because it turned out to be the lessor of 2 evils. It was a matter of practicality.
Quite a while ago (maybe 30 years), CA had indeterminate sentencing. The system began to collapse because most cases were going to jury trial. The problem was that if the defendant had a robbery charge, but pled to a 2nd degree burglary, the Parole Board set the parole date based on the original case facts that supported teh robbery charge. The sentence ranges had very high upper ends, so plea bargaining didn't help inmates get an earlier out date. The courts couldn't handle all the trials, so they went to determinate systems.
Of course, practicality had to be packaged in a way that politicians could take advantage of. If you name a proposed bill something like "The Truth in Sentencing Act", everyone will think you are a hero. (No one except law wonks every actually read the bills, so the name is very important.) The creative packaging also avoids having explain who designed the collapsing system. It was a political win/win situation.