In modern English and American law the crime of robbery is generally defined by statute. The definitions used are primarily of two kinds: those that are closely derived from the older English common law, and those that have adopted modifications of the type recommended by the American Law Institute's Model Penal Code. The California statute is typical of the common law approach. Borrowing language almost word for word from Edward East's text of 1803, it defines robbery as "the felonious taking of personal property in the possession of another, from his person or immediate presence, and against his will, accomplished by means of force or fear" (Cal. Penal Code Ann. (West) § 211 (1999)). Other statutes of this kind go into greater detail, while a few states, such as Virginia, leave the definition almost wholly to the common law.
Under the older definitions, robbery requires proof of larceny, the principal common law form of theft, plus two additional factors: (1) that the taking be by means of force or fear; and (2) that the theft be from the person of the victim or from his immediate presence.