Bank robbery usually involves a state bank or a national bank or other institution that is part of the Federal Reserve. As a result, it is usually trialed at the federal level. However, a bank robber may also be charged under state laws, depending on the exact nature of the crime. Penalties in state court are usually not as severe. Additionally, it is generally easier to defend against a state accusation, which is why most attorneys will fight to keep the case out of federal court.
The government may also use the Hobbs Act, which applies when commerce or transportation of commercial items has been interfered with. This includes extortion, robbery and violence. If the Hobbs Act is utilized, the case will automatically be trialed at the state level, and this places a defendant in far greater jeopardy.
Laws and Penalties
The penalties for bank robbery are determined by the circumstances involved in the case. For instance, bank robbery without using a firearm carries a maximum of 20 years in prison. Bank robbery with a firearm, however, carries a maximum of 25 years in prison. Very often, a bank robbery charge will also carry various additional charges. Combined, these charges can add as much as 20 years to a prison sentence. The most commonly added charges include:
• Intent to commit a felony
• Assault with a deadly weapon, particularly if a firearm was used
• Death threats, if robbers threatened with deadly force
All of these can lead to a lengthier prison sentence. If someone is injured during the robbery, the crime is considered as even more severe. As a result, the sentence will also be increased.
Bank Robbery Defenses
If you are accused with bank robbery, at either state or federal level, it is very important to seek legal counsel straightaway and to not make any statements to the police. Your rights must be protected, in particular those associated with the Miranda rights. Cooperation with the police is very important, and you should not resist arrest as this could lead to an additional charge. However, you should not agree to questioning without your legal representation, which is outlined in the Sixth Amendment. This amendment also grants you the right to a fair and speedy trial. Furthermore, the Fifth Amendment allows you to not answer any potentially incriminating questions. You cannot testify against yourself, whether in a court of law or interrogation room. The Fifth Amendment guarantees that you are given due process. Finally, the Fourteenth Amendment guarantees that you are equally protected by the law, meaning you are entitled to proper treatment.
Statute of Limitations
The federal statute of limitations for bank robbery is five years. There is also a state statute of limitations, however, which is four years in Florida. Additionally, the limitations can be tolled by a further three years if you are out of state.
Bank Robbery Cases
• Accused bank robber wants NSA phone records for his defense – Terrance Brown is claiming he was not in the vicinity of a bank when it was robbed and he wants the NSA phone records to prove it. The NSA requires all telephone companies to record their customer data and locations.
• PD: Robber hits banks in Altamonte Springs, Maitland before arrest in Winter Park – A serial bank robber has been arrested after hitting two banks in a single day. The quick thinking actions of the bank employees made it possible for law enforcement to quickly apprehend the suspect.
• Bank robbery in Coral Springs adds to slew of heists in South Florida – The Coral Springs bank is the latest in a long line of banks to have been robbed around Florida. It is not known whether or not all the robberies are related, or whether they are all individual attacks.
• Three South Florida Banks Robbed Just Hours Apart – Three separate banks have been robbed in a single day in Florida. At least two of the three robberies are believed to have been committed by one and the same person. The third robbery is clearly a different individual. It is not known, however, whether the third robbery is related to the first two.
• Call to Channel 9 leads to bank robbery suspect’s arrest – A man robbed a bank at gun point, threatening to kill everyone inside the bank. He walked away with a bag of money, but it included a dye pack, which went off. A picture was released showing the man and a woman immediately contacted the police department, as she recognized him. The man was arrested shortly thereafter. It is believed that he was also involved in a number of other crimes that the FBI are presently investigating. The quick thinking of a member of the public has taken a dangerous person off the street.