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Name: People v. Gonzales
Case #: H025035
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 6 DCA
Opinion Date: 12/17/2003
Subsequent History: Rev. den. 3/17/04

Sufficient evidence supported the defendant’s convictions for robbery and impersonating a public officer. Defendant was convicted of these offenses in connection with two incidents in which he and another man approached people whose cars had broken down, demanding to see identification, and stealing the victim’s wallet when he pulled it out to produce identification. Defendant argued on appeal that insufficient evidence supported the verdict that he had impersonated a state public officer, relying on confusion surrounding the language of Penal Code section 146a, subdivision (b), which applies to any person who falsely represents himself or herself to be “a public officer, investigator, or inspector in any state department.” The appellate court found that “public officer” was not modified by the phrase “in any state department,” and thus the prosecution was not required to prove that defendant falsely impersonated a state public officer. The court also found that the jury was properly instructed in this regard. The court further found sufficient evidence to support the false impersonation verdict as to the first incident, holding that although the evidence did not show that defendant expressly claimed to be an officer, the jury could find from his actions that he intended to convey the impression that he was an officer. Finally, the court upheld the conviction for robbery as to the second incident, holding that defendant’s claim to be undercover officers, as well as his acts of patting down the victim and informing the victim that he was doing something illegal, constituted sufficient evidence to establish that personal property was taken by means of force or fear.