Thursday, January 08, 2009

Request for Money + Metion of Gun = Bank Robbery

US v. Ketchum: Ketchum walked into a North Carolina bank and handed a teller a note which read "[t]hese people are making me do this." He then told the teller that "[t]hey are forcing me and have a gun. Please don't call the cops. I must have at least $500." The teller gave Ketchum $1686 and he left the bank, only to be arrested shortly thereafter. He was charged with one count each of bank robbery and bank larceny. The parties agreed on the factual basis for a guilty plea, but not which charge it proved. The district court concluded that Ketchum's statement to the teller constituted "intimidation" under 18 USC 2113(a) and found him guilty of bank robbery.

On appeal, Ketchum argued that there was not sufficient evidence to sustain a conviction for bank robbery because there was no evidence of intimidation. Specifically, he argued that the statement "[t]hey are forcing me and have a gun" indicated that Ketchum himself, if anyone, was at risk, not the teller. The Fourth Circuit disagreed and upheld the conviction. The court concluded that the combination of a demand for money (which, the court notes "alone may be sufficient") and the mention of a gun was sufficient to prove intimidation.

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