Bank robbery is a serious federal offense which may result in harsh penalties including incarceration and a fine. If you’ve been charged with bank robbery, you may feel overwhelmed and concerned. Nonetheless, you have every right to contest such charges including insisting on a trial if necessary. A skilled Maine bank robbery defense attorney can protect your rights, advocate for you throughout the judicial process, and seek the best outcome for your individual situation.
With over four decades of experience, Attorney Richard Berne understands the federal bank robbery statute and how to muster the most effective defense to this charge. Whether you are scheduled for trial, out on bail, or seeking legal counsel for a friend or family member who has been accused of bank robbery, contact The Law Office of Richard Berne at (207) 871-7770 for a free consultation.
How Does the Federal Government Define Bank Robbery?
The federal bank robbery statute, 18 U.S.C. §2113—Bank robbery and incidental crimes, defines a wide range of conduct that falls within the umbrella of bank robbery. It defines a bank as any member bank of the Federal Reserve System or any entity organized or operating under United States law, such as credit unions and savings and loan associations. Armored trucks, night depositories, and in some situations, ATMs also fall under the federal bank robbery statute.
Specific conduct for which an individual may be charged under 18 U.S.C. §2113 include:
- Entering a bank with the intent to take property or money
- Attempting to take property or money from a bank by force and violence, or by intimidation
- Taking property or money from a bank by force and violence, or by intimidation
- Receiving, possessing, concealing or storing money, property, or other items of value from a bank
- Bartering, selling, or disposing of money, property, or other items of value from a bank
- Using a dangerous weapon or device in a bank
- Assaulting any person or endangering any life of a person in a bank
- Taking hostages, fleeing law enforcement, and forced accompaniment
Keep that the word property as used in this statute includes not only money but also valuables in the vault, office supplies, and furniture.
Why Is Bank Robbery a Federal Offense?
Traditional banks, credit unions, savings and loans, and other banking institutions are either members of the Federal Reserve Bank and/or insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). These are federal institutions, so any related crimes fall under federal jurisdiction.
Penalties for Bank Robbery
If you are convicted of bank robbery under 18 U.S.C. §2113, you face varied penalties depending on the facts and circumstances of your particular case. If the value of stolen money or property exceeds $1,000, you face up to 10 years in prison. Taking hostages or abducting individuals carries a minimum ten-year sentence. If someone is killed during a robbery, the penalty is life in prison or death.
Federal courts generally look three major factors in determining a convicted bank robber’s sentence:
- Monetary value of the stolen property
- Use of force, violence, and weapons
- Injuries and fatalities to others
In addition to the minimum and maximum sentences enumerated in 18 U.S.C. §2113, the specific sentencing range for an individual’s crime is based on the federal sentencing guidelines. These guidelines contain 43 offense levels, with the highest levels resulting in the harshest penalties.
The basic offense level for a bank robbery conviction is level 20 but the guidelines provide for increases in the base offense level based on certain factors such as:
- Firearms. The possession and discharge of a firearm or other dangerous weapon results in an increase of three to seven levels.
- Bodily injury. Minor to life-threatening bodily injuries may add two to five levels.
- Abduction/Physical restraint. Restraining employees or customers, or abducting them during an escape may increase the offense level by two to four levels.
- Value of theft. Depending on the value of the property taken during a bank robbery the offense level may increase up to seven levels.
Hire a Federal Bank Robbery Defense Attorney
In light of the potentially devastating consequences of a bank robbery prosecution, it is imperative to retain experienced competent counsel to represent you in such matters. Richard Berne has represented clients in a wide array of federal criminal cases during his career. His broad experience both as a former federal prosecutor and as a federal defense lawyer form the basis for his knowledge of the unique rules applicable to federal criminal practice. As a result, you can be assured that Attorney Richard Berne will aggressively pursue the best outcome for your case.
Contact The Law Office of Richard Berne at (207) 871-7770 or online to schedule a free consultation today.