Federal Bank Robbery Defense Attorney in Maine
Serving the Portland, Biddeford, Bangor, Augusta and Saco Regions
Robbing a bank sounds like something that only happens in heist movies. It's a classic crime that Hollywood has used repeatedly in its plots. However, in reality, it actually happens quite a bit. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) reported that, in 2011 alone, there were about 5,000 bank robberies. All told, these robberies resulted in more than $30 million being stolen, and over 100 people being killed.
However, because it's a federal offense, the penalties that you could face, if convicted for bank robbery, are severe. They can include hefty fines, and multiple decades behind bars.
Here's what you need to know about the federal charge for bank robbery.
Everything about the federal law against bank robbery, 18 U.S.C. §2113, is broad and wide-reaching. The law covers a lot of different types of conduct, people, and institutions. Not only does the law make it illegal to take, or even to attempt to take, anything that the bank owns or has custody of, but it also makes it illegal to receive or transfer anything that you know was stolen from a bank.
Because the law is not just limited to the money in a bank, this means that you can get charged for bank robbery if you walk out of a bank with something that doesn't belong to you, like one of the bank's chairs: The law against bank robbery outlaws taking property, not just funds. Additionally, you could face charges for bank robbery even for attempting to commit a heist, regardless of whether it's successful. Like everything else about this law, an attempt to commit a bank robbery is interpreted broadly: You can face charges for entering a bank with the intention to commit a robbery, even if you don't end up doing it.
The law is even far-reaching when it defines what a “bank” is. It not only includes banks, credit unions, and other savings and loan associations, but can even include armored trucks, night depositories, and even ATMs, depending on the circumstances, and the nature of the money taken.
For example, if you rob someone who has just withdrawn money from an ATM, you would not face federal bank robbery charges – the money taken no longer belongs to the bank. However, if you were to force or coerce a bank patron to use a card to withdraw cash from an ATM, then you could face bank robbery charges, depending on who owns or operates the ATM machine. Additionally, taking money from an armored truck could lead to a bank robbery charge, if the money that you took was, at the time, the “property” of a bank.
Because it's a federal crime, you can expect federal bank robbery charges to come with some steep penalties attached to it. They do not disappoint.
According to the federal bank robbery statute, if the property was valued at less than $1,000, you could face up to a year in jail. If the value of the property was over $1,000, though, you could face up to 10 years in prison. Additionally, knowingly receiving property stolen from a bank can lead to these same penalties. However, if you've planned the robbery out ahead of time, and entered the bank building with the intent to commit a felony or robbery, then you could face up to 20 years in jail. This is also the potential sentence if you get convicted of using force, extortion, or intimidation in robbing a bank. Additionally, you could face up to 25 years in prison, if you assault or endanger someone using a dangerous weapon during the robbery, even if you use a toy weapon or hoax bomb.
In addition to the federal bank robbery statute's penalties, the Federal Sentencing Guidelines also have an impact on the criminal sanctions that you could face, if convicted for federal bank robbery.
The base offense level for federal bank robbery, according to the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, is 22. Depending on your criminal history, this would mean that you could face between 3 and a half years and a little under 9 years in jail if convicted for bank robbery. However, this range can change, depending on the circumstances of the crime. The potential jail time could grow, if a firearm or dangerous weapon was used, if someone got hurt, killed, or abducted during the offense, or if the amount stolen was more than $10,000.
Federal charges for bank robbery are serious accusations. They are wide-reaching charges, making lots of different kinds of conduct illegal, in addition to simply walking into a bank with guns blazing, like in the movies. You could be committing bank robbery without knowing it, if you conduct a robbery and happen to take bank property, or even if you receive funds that you know were taken from the bank.
Because of how far these charges can reach, beyond the traditional act of sticking up a bank, and because federal prosecutors are often aggressive in trying to pursue as many different criminal charges as possible, you could be surprised to find yourself accused of a bank robbery.
Having a solid defense attorney is crucial, if you're facing charges of federal bank robbery. Regardless of the facts, a defense lawyer knows many different ways to seek an acquittal, and can challenge all of the aspects of the prosecution's case, from the sufficiency of the evidence, to the constitutionality of the investigation against you, to the foundation of the evidence being used in trial. William T. Bly is an experienced criminal defense attorney, who has had countless cases in the past, calling for each and every one of these defense tactics. Call his law office at (207) 571-8146 to tap into his wealth of experience and knowledge, and defend yourself against the criminal charges filed against you.