Federal Crime of Bank Robbery – 18 U.S.C. § 2113
The federal crime of bank robbery is defined under Title 18, Section 2113 of the United States Code as part of a comprehensive statute that has expanded to include other theft related crimes.
18 U.S.C. § 2113 also includes robbery of an armored truck or bank messenger, a night depository, and an automatic teller machine (ATM).
Federal Bank robbery is described as the taking, by force or intimidation, any money or property that is in the care custody, or control of any bank, credit union, or savings and loan institution.
18 U.S.C. § 2113 also includes a situation where you enter, or attempt to enter, a financial institution with intent to commit a felony offense within that affects the institution that violates any United States law, or to commit any theft.
Obviously, most federal prosecutions for a federal bank robbery case deal with the infamous situation where someone holds up a bank teller with some type of weapon, or they take money by force.
As stated, the federal bank robbery statute is much broader and encompasses a wide scope of felony conduct where a bank is the victim. 18 U.S.C. 1203 describes the hostage taking law.
To give readers a better understanding of federal bank robbery laws, our federal criminal defense lawyers are providing an overview below.
Punishment for Federal Bank Robbery
Under federal law, bank robbery is a serious offense and you could be sentenced for up to 20 years in a federal prison, a fine up to $250,000, or both.
If you used violence to accomplish the bank robbery, you could face more severe penalties. If you assault someone in the commission of the bank robbery, or put another person's life in danger with use of a deadly weapon or device, you could be sentenced for up to 25 years in federal prison.
Additionally, if during the bank robbery itself, or while you were making an attempt to escape, another person is killed or forcibly moved against their will (kidnapping), then there will be a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 10 years, and the maximum penalty will become life in prison or the death penalty.
Lesser Included Bank Robbery Offense
Under 18 U.S.C. § 2113, there is also a lesser-included offense of taking away money or valuables within a bank or financial institution, but without the usual force or fear element needed for a traditional charge of federal bank robbery.
The lesser offense can be punishable by up to one year in a federal prison and also applies to anyone who receives, possesses, conceals, or disposes of stolen property that was taken from the bank.
To give you an example of the difference between a traditional federal bank robbery and a lesser included offense, let's use an illustration with the following details. Let's say someone enters a bank, approaches the teller, and tells them he has a gun and to put the money in a bag. The teller gives no resistance and gives them the money.
Clearly, this scenario demonstrates a traditional federal bank robbery that is described under 18 U.S.C. § 2113 and they are facing at least 20 years in a federal prison.
Now, let's look at the same scenario, but after they approached the teller, he realizes they are distracted with other work activity and not paying attention. At the same time, he observes a wrapped stack of money near the teller window. He reaches inside and grabs the money and then exits the bank.
In this last scenario, they would still be prosecuted for 18 U.S.C. § 2113 federal bank robbery, but would be facing punishment for a lesser-included offense of up to one year in federal prison. The clear difference is they didn't use either force or fear in an attempt to steal money from the bank.
Related Federal Bank Robbery Statutes
18 U.S.C. § 2113(a) – Federal burglary or larceny
18 U.S.C. § 2113(c) – Federal receipt of stolen bank property
18 U.S.C. § 2113(d) – Federal assault with a deadly weapon
18 U.S.C. § 371 – General federal conspiracy statute
Defenses for Federal Bank Robbery Charges
If you have been accused of 18 U.S.C. § 2113 federal bank robbery, our skilled criminal lawyers can use a range of defenses to fight the charges:
No force, violence or intimidation
In a situation where you didn't use force, violence or intimidation, you should be able to avoid a conviction for federal bank robbery. For instance, if you used fraud or deceit to obtain funds from someone's account electronically, you could be guilty another federal fraud crime, but not federal bank robbery.
Additionally, in cases where it's unclear whether force or intimidation occurred, we could make an argument at trial you are only guilty of a lesser-included offense of taking property or money from the bank or financial institution, rather than a robbery. This strategy could avoid the more serious penalties associated with federal bank robbery charges.
In limited situations, we may be able to make a duress argument, meaning someone threatened you or your family with imminent physical harm if you didn't agree to participate in the federal bank robbery.
Mistaken Identity Defense
If our lawyers can show you were not the person to committed the federal bank robbery, then you can't be convicted. For instance, perhaps the actual bank robber was wearing a mask, which frequently occurs, the federal prosecutor might have a tough case on proving you were the person robbing the bank. In other words, the classic case of the mistaken identity defense.
Finally, if the institution robbed was not a bank or credit union defined under 18 U.S.C. 2113(f)-(h), you should not be guilty of federal bank robbery.
Consult with a Federal Criminal Lawyer
Federal bank robbery described under 18 U.S.C. § 2113 is a serious offense which carries severe punishments, including life in prison or the death penalty.
If you or a family member are facing charges for federal bank robbery, our skilled criminal defense lawyers can review the case with you immediately in order to determine a strategy for best possible outcome.
Even in a situation where the case in in the investigative stage – before formal criminal charges have been filed – immediate intervention by our law firm can substantially increase the chances of a favorable outcome.