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Name: People v. Hodges
Case #: A131542
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 01/31/2013

Case reversed where trial court refused to give requested pinpoint instruction and misled jury regarding elements of robbery. Security officers observed Hodges stealing items from a Safeway store. After Hodges left the store and was sitting in his car, officers approached him and asked him to come back into the store. Hodges pushed the stolen items at the officers, hitting one, Anderson, in the chest with them. Anderson then reached for Hodges’ keys, which were in the ignition. Hodges put the car in reverse and backed up, dragging Anderson. Anderson was struck by the door and landed on the ground. Hodges drove away but was subsequently identified and arrested. During Hodges’ trial for robbery, the court refused to give a defense pinpoint instruction that Hodges could not be found guilty of robbery if he abandoned the victim’s property prior to using force. During deliberations, the jury asked if it was still robbery if Hodges had used the force only after abandoning the property. The court, over Hodges’ objection, responded that the robbery instruction applied to the confrontation in the parking lot. Shortly thereafter, the jury returned guilty verdicts. On appeal, Hodges challenged the instruction and the court’s answer to the jury’s question as misleading. Held: Reversed. In responding to the jury, the trial court failed to address its inquiry regarding the legal impact of Hodges’ surrender of the goods, and the relationship of the conduct to the required use of force. It allowed them to find Hodges guilty of robbery regardless of whether he intended to deprive the store of property at the time the force was used. Further, the court erred in refusing to give the defense pinpoint instruction, which went to the crux of Hodge’s defense, and the failure to give it was prejudicial.