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Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 26788
Experience:  Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
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Sentencing and Parole Question for Bank Robbery in CA

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I would like to know what the sentence would be for 1) Robbing a bank with four other people, 2) possessing a firearm, 3) discharging the weapon, 4) killing two law officers, 5) evasion. All done in the same "crime ". And would there be a chance for parole and when would that be?<br /><br />Also a small explosive was used to open a safety deposit box, but no one was injured or threatened by its usage.<br /> <br />This is for the state of California.

This would be felony murder which would murder in the first degree in California. (PC 189) It's a capital offense. Worse case scenario would be the death penalty. Best would be 25 to life.

Edited by FranL on 9/2/2010 at 4:46 AM EST
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
What if the murder of the two law enforcement officers was done in the same spirit as "crime of passion". The cops drew their weapons and so the criminals fired in "self defense". And the explosive was a small charge only used to open a safety deposit box.

Essentially we're dealing with three defendants.

1) Bank robbery, firearm, discharge, murder, evasion
2) Bank robbery, firearm, discharge, evasion
3) Bank robbery, firearm, use of explosive, evasion

And what would be the chance of parole and how long would the defendants have to serve?
If a murder is committed during the commission of certain felonies in California (robbery being one)the charge would be a First Degree Murder, which is a capital offense. This is precisely the kind of thing that felony-murder laws were enacted to prevent.

These people have much more to worry about right now than parole. I would expect, with two law enforcement officers killed during the commission of a crime that the DAs office will play hardball.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Final question... and you've totally helped. But, I'm writing a script and trying to be accurate. Although I figured the DA's would push for the death penalty, I'm just wondering if somehow the two defendants who didn't kill anyone would get a lighter sentence and greater chance of parole. The defendant who murdered the officers I assumed would get the full 25 with little chance of parole.

But, the amount of time the other defendants serve factors into the story line. Hence my belaboring this part of the question.
I'm glad to know it's a script.

With a felony murder, there doesn't have to be any premeditation. The very fact that the deaths occurred (even if they were shot accidentally) during the course of a robbery in California, would make this potentially a capital offense.

All three participants in the incident would face the same charges. But from there, mitigating circumstances could cause any one of them to be offered a better deal than the others. How likely that would be would really depend on the circumstances. Obviously the shooter would be the heavy, but that doesn't have to let the other two off of the hook. If the crime is ugly enough, the prosecutor may not be willing to deal at all and could force a jury to decide if any one of these men was less guilty than another.

Edited by FranL on 9/2/2010 at 5:23 AM EST
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Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Ok. Thanks. I don't want to make them rats, but maybe the shooter takes the heat because he's already in his 60s anyway and will probably die in prison regardless. Or, maybe it's just one of those script vagueries that only criminal attornies will catch. ;-)
That's the beauty of fiction. You can control the facts.

Have fun!