May I please have all your money?

If you walk into a bank and hand the teller a note that reads “Please give me some money,” is that illegal?

If it is, would it be attempted robbery, or attempted pan-handling at a bank? I’m having one of these weird ICQ conversations as I’m waiting for a new compiler build.

I think it’d be funnier if you held up a piece of paper that said “This is a gun” on it.

And yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s illegal, and you’d get charged with attempted robbery. Or hell, probably actual robbery, since I think tellers are trained to not make a fuss, hand over the money, and press the silent alarm if they can.

So, any request for money is an attempted robbery, even without threat of force? You could be mute, and writing might be the only way you can communicate. Like I said, weird conversation. :-)

If you were mute, you wouldn’t be handing them a note that says “Please give me some money.” You’d be writing “My name is Roger Wong, I am mute. My account number is X, I would like to make a withdrawal of Y” while handing them an ID.

Actually, you’d probably just use the ATM.

In California, robbery requires taking something of value through force or fear. A defense attorney would probably argue there’s no force or fear because all you did was ask for money, same as a panhandler on the street. A prosecutor is going to say that everyone knows banks don’t give away money, so handing a bank teller a note asking for free money implies a threat of force. Lord only knows what a jury would decide, but it’s definitely a jury question – is handing a bank teller a note asking for money, a threat?

Edit - I’d also add, the federal offense of bank robbery has similar elements, IIRC. On the other question, it’s probably a pretty clear-cut case of trespassing, since most banks (and all business) have “No Soliciting” signs.


That’s bananas. A small time crook such as Zelig would take the money and run.

Apparently yes, though it doesn’t note if there was a weapon displayed or any other threats.

Regardless of what the jury might decide though, you’re going to get to meet your friendly neighbourhood SWAT team…

(also waiting on a build)

Back in the 80s, My 7th grade art teacher was a major bank robbery. He would walk in, say it was a robbery and ask for all the money, no violent threats, no nothing, and leave. A teller even ASKED one time if he had a gun and he said no and she gave him all the money in her drawer anyways. He hit like 15 banks in two years. He never spent a dime, when the police finally caught him they recovered every dime he had ever stolen.

Would that be a crime, or a misdemeanor?

They finally caught onto him when witnesses remembered his adamant refusal to let them use the lavatory pass in the middle of the robbery.

I was roommates with a guy who robbed banks instead of getting a summer job when he was like 19. He lived at his friend’s house and robbed like 7 of them before getting caught.

Yeah what he said.

is handing a bank teller a note asking for money, a threat?

I would say it is because of the facts you listed above. Banks get robbed all the time via force.

Wow. That fuckin RAWKS. All my roommate did was try to blow me.

The note is different from panhandling because the note is asking the teller to do something illegel - give up the bank’s money. Plus, people rob banks.

This reminds me of something. If the Catholic Church denounces masturbation, is it illegal in the Vatican to tell someone to go fuck themselves THANKS FOLKS HERE ALL WEEK TRY THE PENIS

Oh, my other good bank robbing story is my mom was a bank teller when she was in her early 20s. One day a dude came up with a note “I have a gun, give me some money”. My mom told him “You’ve got to be kidding me” and he left. Then she got fired.

Oh, and thanks to the magic of google, here’s my roommate’s story

People rob people on the sidewalk, too. And, if you really wanted to stretch it, the note doesn’t ask for the bank’s money, it just asks for money. Which could mean the teller’s own money. Although I don’t think anyone would believe that. But what if he’s just begging for money from the bank, and asking the teller because the teller is the only one around to talk to? And even if he’s asking for the bank’s money, if you just ask someone to commit a crime, is that a crime?

Yes. Oh well.

Bill’s “People rob banks” comment got me thinking though: suppose a panhandler came up to you on the sidewalk, and instead of saying “Can you spare something?” or whatever, he says “Give me some money.” Robbery?

If you feel threatened, would that make it assault?

  • Alan

Ha, those are good stories.

I grew up with a kid who was a petty criminal, and somewhat successful at first, but not really that smart. He apparently wanted to rob one of the local stores, but was worried he would be recognized (small town). He put shoe polish on his face to hide his identity. It worked! The clerk didn’t recognize him. But the clerk was able to direct the police to a person with shoe polish smeared all over their face. The story holds that he got caught because he couldn’t get all the shoe polish off. Poor bastard ended up doing some time.

He claims his charges were for something else and that there is no truth to the shoe polish story. For some reason, I find it immensely satisfying to believe he smeared black polish on his face. :)

Vagrants try to intimidate people out of money all the time. Last time this happened to me, my wife and I were getting a falafel somewhere in Redundo Beach. The shop owner eventually chased the guy off. I think of it more like a nuisance.