In California, an Estes Robbery is a robbery that occurs when a shoplifter or thief tries to take some merchandise from a store (liquor, department, or grocery store) and is approached by store security or Loss Prevention and the shoplifter either pushes past the security guard or in any way uses force to get away. Essentially it is a simple petty theft (shoplifting) from a store that turns into a robbery. Petty theft in California is the taking of property valued at $900 or less. Petty theft is a minor crime and prosecuted as a misdemeanor in California punishable by up 180 days in the county jail. Robbery is the taking of personal property of another, from his person or immediate presence using force and intimidation, with the intent to permanently deprive him of it. Robbery is a serious crime prosecuted as a felony in California.
When a customer in a store is suspected of stealing merchandise he or she is usually confronted by a store employee or someone from the Loss Prevention department. If the thief feels threatened or assaulted, a verbal and physical struggle could occur resulting in a minor theft offense turning into a serious robbery offense. The important point in these types of situations will hinge on what was said and who or what initiated the physical struggle between the thief sand the store employee.
An Estes Robbery is a serious charge and is considered a “Strike” under California’s Three Strikes Law. Estes Robbery originated from a 1983 California case, People v. Estes 147 Cal. App.3d 23.
In an Estes Robbery, California prosecutors will charge a First Degree Robbery or 211 PC, referring to Penal Code section 211. First degree robbery is punishable by 3, 4, or 6 years in state prison. Use of a gun during the robbery could add 10 years to the robbery sentence. If a gun is discharged during the robbery, an additional 20 years is added. If someone is injured or killed with a gun during the robbery, add an additional 25 years to life to the robbery sentence. Consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney if you are being investigated or charged with an Estes Robbery.