Federal Bank Robbery

Despite complex surveillance systems, alarm buzzers, and automatically locking safes, bank robberies continue to occur within cities and towns throughout the United States with shocking frequency - with over 4,000 federal bank robbery cases brought in 2015 by the Department of Justice. To be sure, however, the federal charge of bank robbery is extremely serious, with convictions carrying a sentence of up to life imprisonment, or even the death penalty under certain circumstances. For this reason, it is imperative that one charged with this serious crime immediately retain a skilled federal criminal defense lawyer to fight on his behalf.

Specifically, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 2113(a), whoever: i) takes or attempts to take any property, money or other thing of value in the care, custody or control of a bank, credit union, or savings and loan by use of force, violence, intimidation or extortion; or ii) enters a bank, credit union or savings and loan with the intent to commit any felony affecting such financial institution, or commit any larceny, shall be imprisoned by up to 20 years. Additionally, pursuant to § 2113(b), whoever takes and carries away with the intent to steal any property or money valued at greater than $1,000 and which is in the care, custody or control of a bank, credit union, or savings and loan, shall be punished by up to ten years imprisonment, or up to one year imprisonment if the money or property at issue is valued at less than $1,000. If during the commission, or attempted commission of either of these crimes, the defendant assaults any person, or puts such person's life in jeopardy by the use of a dangerous weapon or device, the maximum term of imprisonment is increased to 25 years. Notably, this enhancement may be applied even where a toy gun or "hoax" bomb is used in the robbery. See United States v. Hernandez, 232 Fed. App'x 561, 567 (6th Cir. 2007) (collecting cases).

Further, 18 U.S.C. § 2113(c) makes it a crime to knowingly receive, possess, conceal, sell, or dispose any property or money that has been taken or stolen from a bank, credit union or savings and loan. As with § 2113(b), a conviction in a case where more than $1,000 in money or property is at issue may result in a sentence of up to ten years imprisonment - or up to one year imprisonment where less than $1,000 in money or property is stolen. Notably, in the case of a conspiracy to violate § 2113(c), the knowledge that the money or property at issue is stolen cannot be imputed from one conspirator to another - it must be established independently for each defendant by the government. United States v. Tavoularis, 515 F.2d 1070, 1074 (2d Cir. 1975).

Perhaps most seriously, whoever kills or forcibly abducts another person in the commission of any conduct proscribed by 18 U.S.C. § 2113, or while avoiding or attempting to avoid apprehension for the same, or in freeing himself or attempting to free himself from arrest or confinement for such offense, shall be imprisoned by a minimum of ten years - and if the death of another results, by life imprisonment or the death penalty. 18 U.S.C. § 2113(e).

Finally, not every bank, credit union, or savings and loan qualifies under this statute. The bank subject to any robbery or theft must either be a member of the Federal Reserve System, organized or operating under the laws of the United States, or where the deposits are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. 18 U.S.C. § 2113(f). Likewise, should a credit union be the subject of a robbery, it must a federal or state-chartered credit union, with accounts insured by the National Credit Union Administration Board. 18 U.S.C. § 2113(g). And for a savings and loan to apply under this statute, the institution's deposits must be insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. 18 U.S.C. § 2113(h). Should these provisions not apply, the bank robbery at issue cannot be charged in federal court, and instead, is more properly the subject of a state prosecution.

Hiring a top New York criminal defense attorney to defend you in any federal bank robbery prosecution is crucial and will ensure that every viable defense is explored and utilized on your behalf. Federal bank robbery attorneys at the Law Offices of Jeffrey Lichtman have successfully handled countless federal cases, exploiting holes in the prosecution's evidence to achieve the best possible result for our clients. Contact us today at (212) 518-1001 for a free consultation.