On Wednesday, October 21, 2015, a man robbed an Irving Park neighborhood bank located on the Northwest side. According to witnesses, the man walked into the Wintrust Bank branch at 4343 N. Elston Ave. between 4:00 and 4:30 in the afternoon, gave the teller a note demanding cash, and then ran away with an unspecified amount of money, according to Chicago Police and the FBI. The suspect has not been caught at this time, but if he is caught, he will face serious federal charges and a lengthy prison sentence.
Bank Robbery Charges
If you are charged with bank robbery, it is always a federal offense. To be convicted of bank robbery, the assistant U.S. Attorney must be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a person took or tried to take money or property from an institution that is federally insured. Even if you are arrested for allegedly stealing from an ATM, you will be charged with bank robbery.
No Weapon is Necessary to be Charged With Bank Robbery
There is no requirement that a dangerous weapon be used for you to be charged with robbing a bank. If you are charged with using a dangerous weapon, however, the potential prison sentence increases substantially. Even if you use a harmless object that looks like a weapon, you could face an enhanced prison sentence if you are convicted. If you have a co-defendant who used a weapon or pretended to use a weapon, your sentence could be enhanced if you knew or should have known about it. Just telling a bank teller you have a gun, or making a gesture that mimics going for a gun, or anything you do during a robbery that makes a person feel they were threatened with death, also triggers sentencing enhancement.
Potential Sentences for Bank Robbery
The method of the robbery, the amount of money stolen, whether or not a weapon was used, and a myriad of other factors contribute to the determination of the length of a prison sentence imposed under the federal guidelines. Anyone who enters any building that houses a bank with the intent to rob it or otherwise commit a felony faces a prison sentence of up to 20 years and substantial fines. If a person is assaulted during the robbery, or another person’s life is placed in jeopardy, the prison sentence can be increased to 25 years and higher fines are possible. If anyone dies as a result of the bank robbery, you could face a life sentence, or even the death penalty.
There are Potential Defenses to Bank Robbery Charges
Some defenses are available in bank robbery cases that are available in all crimes, such as having an alibi or arguing a case of mistaken identity. Every case is different, and it is important that you have an aggressive criminal defense attorney like David Freidman protecting your rights from the first moment and fighting for you at sentencing. It is important to understand that bank robbery sentences have many factors which can drastically increase or decrease your sentence. Call or email us today if you are in the Chicago or DuPage area and would like a no obligation consultation to see how we can help you with your bank robbery charges.