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Commonwealth v. Cruz

809 N.E.2d 1100 (2004)

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Commonwealth v. Cruz

Massachusetts Appeals Court

809 N.E.2d 1100 (2004)

Facts

Cruz (defendant) was unarmed when he stole a pair of jeans from a store. Two plain-clothed store security guards followed Cruz into the parking lot, where they tried to forcibly subdue him. Cruz threatened the guards with a gun, which in fact he did not have. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts (plaintiff) prosecuted Cruz for armed robbery and armed assault. At trial, Cruz testified that he did not know the men were security guards, and thought they were trying to rob him. Cruz said he was frightened and threatened to use his imaginary gun only to help him escape from the men. The judge refused Cruz's motion for a jury instruction on the use of non-deadly force in self-defense. The jury found Cruz guilty of unarmed robbery and armed assault. The judge granted Cruz's post-verdict motion and dismissed his indictment for robbery. The judge reasoned that Cruz did not use force or the threat of force when he took the jeans from the store, and that Cruz's threatened use of force in the parking lot was too attenuated from his shoplifting to constitute the use of threatened force to complete a robbery. Both parties appealed to the Massachusetts Appeals Court, the Commonwealth contending that the judge erred in dismissing the robbery indictment, and Cruz challenging his conviction for assault.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Per curiam)

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