In the United States bank robbery is considered a very serious crime with severe punishment if convicted, usually involving a long period of incarceration at a federal or state penitentiary.
Bank robbery, according to the law involves taking anything valuable from a financial institution, or from someone inside a bank or credit union by force, intimidation, threat or the use of violence of some kind. If the bank robbery takes place after hours when no one is present, it is then termed burglary and is subject to different laws.
When two or more people rob a bank, it is considered to be a conspiracy to commit a bank robbery. This offense carries a different weight than just a single individual robbing a bank.
When a person is charged with bank robbery, there are three types of charges which may apply; they are as follows:
- Armed robbery when a deadly weapon is used during the crime.
- Unarmed robbery when no weapon is present.
- Possession of stolen money, which implicates you as an accessory, after the fact.
Although each state has its own laws concerning robbery, if a federal bank or financial institution is robbed then it automatically becomes a federal offense. Since the federal government insures most banks, most robberies become federal crimes and are tried in the federal court system.
Regarding sentencing, generally bank robbery carries a prison term of anywhere from one year up to twenty-five. In some cases if anyone is hurt during the robbery, more years may be added. If deadly force is used during the robbery and anyone is killed, then the death penalty may apply.
Most banks are now protected by sophisticated security systems, video cameras, and automatic alerts. Tellers are instructed to put die packs in with money. This makes it easier to provide evidence in bank robbery cases.
The punishment for bank robbery varies greatly based on a few factors such as how much money was taken, how many victims were hurt, injured or killed during the robbery. Most bank robbery crimes, however, do result in some prison time.