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Answers from an Attorney: Consequences of Federal Bank Robbery Charges

By Spodek Law Group | October 20, 2023
(Last Updated On: October 20, 2023)

Last Updated on: 20th October 2023, 04:40 pm


Answers from an Attorney: Consequences of Federal Bank Robbery Charges

Getting charged with robbing a bank at the federal level is extremely serious and can totally turn your life upside down. I know you’re probably feeling scared and overwhelmed right now. As your attorney, I want to walk you through exactly what these charges mean and what consequences you may be facing. My goal is to educate you so you understand the legal process and make the best decisions for your situation.

What Makes a Bank Robbery a Federal Crime?

First, it’s important to understand what makes robbing a bank a federal crime rather than a state crime. Basically, if the bank is FDIC insured (which most are), it falls under federal jurisdiction. Federal bank robbery charges allow the FBI and federal prosecutors to get involved and pursue harsher punishments compared to state charges.

Elements of Federal Bank Robbery

For you to be convicted of federal bank robbery, prosecutors have to prove these elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • You took money or property belonging to a bank, credit union, or savings and loan association
  • You used force, violence, or intimidation to take the money or property
  • The bank’s deposits were insured by the FDIC at the time of the robbery
  • You acted intentionally

The big thing is prosecutors have to show you used force or threats. Simply slipping a note to a teller demanding money is not enough. You have to use some kind of violence or do something to put the teller in fear.

Federal Bank Robbery Penalties

Now, let’s talk about the penalties you face if convicted of federal bank robbery. Unfortunately, they are harsh. Bank robbery is punished under 18 U.S.C. § 2113 and is considered a felony. Here’s a quick breakdown of the possible sentences:

  • Up to 20 years in federal prison if no one was seriously hurt and you did not use a dangerous weapon.
  • Up to 25 years in federal prison if you used a dangerous weapon like a gun or knife, but no one was seriously injured.
  • Up to life in prison if someone was killed or kidnapped during the robbery.

As you can see, a conviction exposes you to decades behind bars. These penalties are harsher than what you’d face for a state bank robbery charge. And there are other serious consequences….

Other Consequences of a Federal Bank Robbery Conviction

Beyond a long prison sentence, being convicted of federal bank robbery can ruin your life in other ways:

  • You will have a federal felony conviction on your record forever.
  • You may have to pay heavy fines up to $250,000.
  • Your assets could be seized.
  • You will lose eligibility for federal benefits like food stamps or housing assistance.
  • You will lose the right to vote and possess a firearm.
  • You will have limited job opportunities and difficulty finding housing.
  • You will be on supervised release for 3-5 years once released from prison.

As you can see, these charges follow you for life and impact every aspect of your future. That’s why we need to start preparing the strongest defense possible against them.

Building Your Defense Against Federal Bank Robbery Charges

The good news is there are potential defenses we can use to fight these charges. Here are some of the most common strategies:

  • Duress – We argue you only robbed the bank because you were forced to by someone threatening your life or family.
  • Diminished mental capacity – We claim you have a mental disability or disorder that impacted your actions.
  • Mistaken identity – We insist police arrested the wrong person and it was someone else.
  • False confession – If you confessed, we can argue the confession was coerced or false.

The evidence against you will determine which defense gives us the best chance at an acquittal or hung jury. I’ll need to review all the discovery to advise the strongest approach. My job is to poke holes in the prosecution’s case and raise reasonable doubt about your guilt.

Consider Taking a Plea Deal to Avoid Trial

Given the steep penalties if convicted at trial, we also need to have frank conversations about potential plea agreements. Very few federal bank robbery cases actually go to trial because the risks are so high. I can negotiate with the U.S. Attorney to see if they’ll agree to drop some charges or recommend a lighter sentence in exchange for a guilty plea on your part. This may be the safest resolution depending on the strength of the evidence against you. Going to trial should always be the last resort in federal criminal cases.


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