California theft crime: Hayward woman allegedly robs man at ATM

On an April 2013 evening, a 38-year-old man was surprised just before 9 p.m. to be robbed of his cash by a young woman at an ATM outside of a Fremont bank. According to the Fremont Patch, police reported that, with her hand in her pocket, the perpetrator told the victim she had a gun and that he was to hand over his money.

The alleged robber was arrested just over a week later in Hayward after law enforcement had reviewed security film. At the time of her arrest, the defendant was in possession of identification cards that belonged to another alleged robbery victim who had had her purse taken in Berkeley a couple of weeks prior.

Authorities charged the woman with felony robbery and felony possession of stolen property.

Possible punishment

Since 1994, California penal law has specifically classified the act of robbing a person while they are using or just after using an ATM as first-degree robbery. Robbery committed in this scenario is punishable by three, four, or six years in California state prison.

Possession of stolen property also may result in a term of imprisonment, but the length of the sentence varies depending on the circumstances.

California theft crimes

As in other states, the criminal law surrounding crimes related to the unlawful taking of property, which may be done with violence or threats as in the Fremont robbery example, or instead with secrecy, stealth or fraud, is complex, reaching many different types of criminal actions.


In California, stealing personal property of another person is defined as ” theft” that is either “grand” or “petty,” depending on the type of property taken and its value.

Punishment for grand theft is in most situations up to one year in jail, except that if a firearm is stolen, the terms of imprisonment are longer – 16 months, or two or three years. Petty theft brings a maximum of six months in jail, a fine up to $1,000,

or both.


Burglary is the act of entering a home, building or other structure with the intent to steal or commit any felony. In California, burglary of an inhabited home or vessel or other inhabited building is considered burglary of the first degree, which can result in a prison term of two, four or six years. Burglary of any other type of building or structure is second-degree burglary punishable by up to a year in jail in most situations.

Get legal advice

While this article discusses a few California state robbery and theft crimes, sometimes theft-type acts can also charged as federal crimes, especially those that are considered white-collar crimes like identity theft and different types of fraud. It may be helpful to consult a criminal defense attorney that represents defendants against both California state and federal criminal theft charges.

Anyone under investigation for or facing charges of a theft or robbery crime in California should seek advice from an experienced California criminal defense attorney as early as possible to mount a vigorous defense as the punishment for conviction can be grim, as can the effects of a criminal record later in life.

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