Bank robbery is a very serious crime that affects everyone, not just the bank. According to the Bank Crime Statistics 2016 report, published by the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), there were 48 bank robberies in Nevada during that year. When a bank is robbed, the FBI gets involved and conducts an investigation. However, bank robbery is a criminal act under both state and federal law. This is bad news for someone who is accused of the crime, especially if they do not have good representation.
Types of Banks
Banks, savings and loan associations, and credit unions are all classified as banks of the Federal Reserve System. Anyone who robs any of these can face federal bank robbery charges. This also includes entities that are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), such as:
- Banking associations
- Agencies of foreign banks
- Trust companies
- Institutions of deposit
- Savings banks
In order for a credit union to have protection under federal bank robbery laws, it must be insured by the National Credit Union Administration Board. Savings and loan associations are under a similar rule and must be insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. If these institutions do not meet the criteria to fall under federal bank robbery laws, then they are subject to Nevada robbery laws and the suspects will be tried in a Nevada court.
Nevada Law on Bank Robbery
The state has strict robbery laws, but bank robberies in Nevada are typically prosecuted at the federal level. However, the local and state law enforcement agencies do cooperate with federal law enforcement in the investigation, searching for the suspects and gathering evidence. It is rare that a person will be prosecuted in both federal and state court for bank robbery, but it can happen. There are no legal barriers to prevent this if the criminal act is a violation of the state laws as well as federal laws.
It should be noted that the Double Jeopardy Clause does not apply here. This clause provides a constitutional prohibition against trying a person twice for the same crime. However, the separate sovereign exception allows it because the federal and state governments are separate entities.
Bank Robbery Federal Law
Banks are protected under 18 U.S.C. § 2113 which prohibits robbery, both non-violent and violent. The law addresses all aspects of bank robbery and defines various levels with specific sentences attached. Under the law, it is illegal to remove property from a bank (including money), but it is also illegal to receive, store, or sell money or property that has been stolen in a bank robbery. Anything of value that is stolen from a bank is subject to this law (18 U.S.C. § 2113 (b)). The amount of money that was takes plays a large part in the sentence. The amount of force is also taken into account.
Bank Robbery Defense
Your attorney will look at your unique circumstances and create a defense based on a number of factors. Each case is different, but the most common defenses for bank robbery include:
- Mistaken identity – Most bank robbers go to great lengths to hide their identities, whether it’s with masks, hoodies that shade their face, or elaborate disguises. They usually try to avoid security cameras so that they cannot be identified. If the defense attorney can successfully raise a reasonable doubt as to the identity of the thief, the jury cannot confirm that the defendant committed the crime.
- Insufficient evidence – If the prosecution is unable to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the defendant is guilty, the jury must acquit. If the defense attorney is able to show that the evidence collected is inadequate, unreliable, or faulty, then the defendant cannot be held liable for the crime.
- Illegal search – Sometimes when law enforcement conducts a search and seizure, they may step outside of the law. It doesn’t matter if it was an unintentional oversight, a technicality, or willful violation, the defense attorney can still argue that it was an illegal search. If that is proven, then the evidence gathered from that search cannot be considered in the case.
Bank Robbery Sentencing
Most federal bank robbery offense sentences involve prison, a fine, or both:
- Uses force, violence, or intimidation to take or attempt to rob a bank – up to 20 years in prison and/or fine
- Steal, intend to steal, or attempt to steal money or property exceeding $1,000 – up to 10 years in prison and/or fine
- Steal, intend to steal, or attempt to steal money or property not exceeding $1,000 – up to 1 year in prison and/or fine
- Receive, store, conceal, etc. of money or property stolen from a bank – same punishment as the taker who actually committed the crime
- Assaults or puts someone’s life in jeopardy while committing bank robbery – up to 25 years in prison and/or fine
- Kills a person while committing bank robbery or while trying to get away, or takes a person hostage while fleeing – not less than 10 years. If death occurs, life imprisonment or death penalty
If you have been arrested for bank robbery, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney who will fight for you and ensure that your rights are protected. Call Gabriel L Grasso for your free and confidential case review today. Whether you’ve been arrested, are under investigation, or are appealing your case, don’t wait to see what happens, get the representation you need and deserve. Make the call today.