Robbery Under Duress In California
In People v. Bacigalupo (1991), 1 Cal. 4th 103, the Supreme Court specifically rejected the defendant's contention that "an honest but unreasonable belief in duress would negate the specific intent element of robbery." (Id. at p. 126.)
The court stated: "In the case of robbery, . . . the unreasonable belief that a defendant is acting under duress will not negate the requisite specific intent; that intent is to deprive the owner of the property taken.
Here, even if defendant took the jewelry from the jewelry store under the unreasonable belief that doing so was necessary to protect life--his own or that of a family member--that unreasonable belief alone would have no effect on his intent to deprive the rightful owner permanently of the jewelry." (Ibid.)
The Supreme Court also expressly disapproved the conclusion in People v. Smith, supra, 187 Cal. App. 3d 666, that "an honest but unreasonable belief that the defendant acted under duress might negate the specific intent necessary for robbery." (People v. Bacigalupo, supra, at p. 126, fn. 4; see also People v. King, supra, 1 Cal. App. 4th at pp. 298-299.) Finally, citing People v. Bacigalupo, we stated in People v. Kearns, supra, 55 Cal. App. 4th 1128:
"The California Supreme Court has held that 'in the case of robbery, . . . the unreasonable belief that a defendant is acting under duress will not negate the requisite specific intent . . . to deprive the owner of the property taken.' " ( Id. at p. 1137.)