In a very interesting case a California Appeals Court has ruled taking a cellphone from your wife with force during an argument could constitute robbery, even if the phone is community property. The case is People v. Aguilera (2016) 244 Cal.App.4th 489, here are the facts:
The defendant and his wife were involved in a heated argument and physical fight, Defendant took her cellphone and wallet from the purse, throwing the purse back into the car. Responding police found defendant a block away talking on his cellphone with his wife’s cellphone and wallet in his pocket. Both he and his wife suffered minor cuts and bruises in the altercation. Defendant was charged among other things with a second degree robbery for taking the cellphone from her by force and violence. However, there was testimony at defendant’s subsequent trial to the effect that the cellphone, having been purchased by defendant for his wife and to which he had ready access, was community property. Despite this evidence, the trial court declined to instruct the jury on the difference between community and separate property and he was Convicted of second degree robbery and other charges including domestic violence.