Patterico's Pontifications

10/31/2004

Serial Bank Robber Faces One Strike

Filed under: No on 66 — Patterico @ 2:00 am

The Daily Breeze reports: Suspect in 25 bank robberies is caught.

If brought to trial and convicted of all 25 robberies, David Lee Robinson will have 25 strikes on his record. Or, if Proposition 66 passes, he’ll have only one.

UPDATE: Actually, looking at the article again, it appears that he has 30 previous convictions for bank robbery. So I was wrong: if Proposition 66 passes, he will have exactly two strikes for his 55 robbery convictions.

10 Responses to “Serial Bank Robber Faces One Strike”

  1. Not that it matters. Conviction on 25 bank robberies is good for pretty much all day if the judge wants it that way.

    Kevin Murphy (6a7945)

  2. Assuming Robinson has a clean record now and Prop 66 fails, does he get 25 to life, or does he only get a record that sets him up for that next time?

    Xrlq (6d213c)

  3. Assuming Robinson has a clean record now and Prop 66 fails, does he get 25 to life, or does he only get a record that sets him up for that next time?

    Kevin is right — because robbery is still a violent felony, he’s looking at a lot of time regardless. But under Prop. 66, if he had been caught with a firearm outside a bank, then he’d be looking at four years tops — even with 30 previous convictions for bank robbery. And he’d serve only two of those four years!

    As for what will happen to him for robbery:

    First, understand that bank robbery is a federal crime, so if the feds want to prosecute him, they can. Sometimes the feds allow us (state prosecutors) to try bank robbers because we can get more time — especially in cases involving guns, since California has a very tough “10-20-life” gun law. But because no guns were involved here, he’d probably go to federal court. I can’t speak to what he would face under federal guidelines.

    Nevertheless, I’ll answer the question based on state law sentencing, based on what I can glean from the linked article.

    Under Prop. 66, if Robinson had no record, he would be looking at 35 years. “No one was physically harmed in the robberies” and a weapon was observed in only one of the crimes: a knife. So his total maximum would be 5 for the first robbery, plus one for the knife makes six, plus five for his prior robbery makes 11, plus one year for each additional robbery (24 years total), equals 35 years.

    30 years of that sentence will be doubled because Robinson “spent 14 years in federal prison for 30 bank robberies in the late 1980s.” Under Proposition 66, his 30 bank robbery convictions would constitute one strike (!), meaning his current sentence could be doubled — but no life sentence is available.

    So under Proposition 66, his top sentence is 65 years. Pretty stiff? Sure, I guess. But add that to his 14 previous years, and it’s a total of 79 years for 55 career robberies — barely over a year per robbery.

    And if Proposition 66 does not pass, what result under current law? Well, with 30 strikes on his record, and 25 current offenses, Robinson would be facing approximately a gazillion to life under current law.

    Patterico (756436)

  4. While I appreciate the silliness of 30 robberies adding up to one strike, 30 strikes is also an odd way of dealing with 30 serious crimes. Five years each sequentially would do just fine.

    I’d rather see a system where the first batch of crimes were treated as no-strike crimes, but have the judge somehow nudged to use the long end of the range. Oh, and I’d have the strike count set to “2” as a result, not 1 or a meaningless 30.

    Kevin Murphy (6a7945)

  5. Actually, come to think of it, someone who robs 30 banks, I don’t care how you add it up or why — I think no one would have an issue with 150 to life.

    It’s the 2 car thefts at 20 followed by the kilo-of-pot bust at 45 that bothers people. Sure there’s discretion, but discretion allows lots of things.

    Kevin Murphy (6a7945)

  6. It’s the 2 car thefts at 20 followed by the kilo-of-pot bust at 45 that bothers people. Sure there’s discretion, but discretion allows lots of things.

    Discretion allows lots of things, it’s true — but it doesn’t allow prosecutors to treat car thefts as strikes, because they’re not.

    Unless, of course, the “car theft” is accomplished by force or fear against the possessor of the car — but that is called “carjacking.”

    Where did you get the idea that simple car theft could be a strike?

    Oh, yeah — from the L.A. Times!

    Patterico (756436)

  7. My bad. I keep reading that thing and supposing that some of their “facts” are actual facts.

    OK, change car theft to another serious-but-not-violent crime. The point being there is no statute of limitations, which historically has been a protection — and incentive — for people who turn their lives around. At some point, for some offenses, the strikes should go away.

    Kevin Murphy (6a7945)

  8. First, understand that bank robbery is a federal crime, so if the feds want to prosecute him, they can. Sometimes the feds allow us (state prosecutors) to try bank robbers because we can get more time — especially in cases involving guns, since California has a very tough “10-20-life” gun law. But because no guns were involved here, he’d probably go to federal court.

    I take this to mean that you and the feds usually don’t play the double jeopardy game that landed the four Rodney King cops in the federal pen after they were acquitted in state court?

    I’m not sure you understood my question, though. My understanding of three strikes – the current one – is that the enhanced sentences are based on convictions that predate the charged offense, i.e., each of Robinson’s counts would be treated as a first strike, as opposed to Robinson getting one first strike sentence, one second, and 22 life sentences. Is that not correct?

    Xrlq (6d213c)

  9. Kevin,

    The strikes do go away, in reality. The older they get, the more judges tend to disregard them.

    X,

    You are correct. One must have a strike *conviction* at the time the new offense is *committed* to have one’s sentence enhanced by the strike.

    Patterico (756436)

  10. I take this to mean that you and the feds usually don’t play the double jeopardy game that landed the four Rodney King cops in the federal pen after they were acquitted in state court?

    Well, only two ended up in the federal pen — the other two were acquitted in federal court as well, if I recall correctly.

    In California, it is forbidden by state statute to try someone stateside if they were acquitted of the same crime by the feds. Going the other direction is presumptively against federal policy, but it’s not a violation of any law. (That doesn’t mean I have to like it.)

    So if we’re going to play that “game,” then we state prosecutors get first crack at it.

    But I think it is rational in choosing jurisdictions to look at where you can get the greater punishment.

    Patterico (756436)


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