Thank You For Submiting Feedback!
The Hawaii and the federal Constitutions, as well Hawaii's rules of penal procedure, clearly require that defendants be informed of the charges against them. Hawaii Const. art. I, § 14; U.S. Const. amend. VI; Hawaii Rules of Penal Procedure Rule 7(d).
Defendants were shopping when a store detective allegedly witnessed them placing cartons of cigarettes into a large handbag and leaving the store without paying for them. When he tried to stop them, he and a store clerk became involved in a scuffle with defendants. Defendants were arrested after attempting to flee, but the bag containing the cigarettes was not recovered. Defendants were indicted separately but convicted in a consolidated trial of robbery in the second degree under HRS § 708-841(1)(a) (Supp. 1990). On appeal, defendants argued that it was error for the trial court to submit an accomplice instruction to the jury.
Was it error for the trial court to submit an accomplice instruction to the jury?
The court reversed defendants' convictions and remanded for new trials. The court held that because defendants were charged separately and each charge involved different facts with different victims, an accomplice instruction should not have been given. Under Hawaii Const. art. I, § 14 and U.S. Const. amend. VI, defendants were entitled to be fully informed of the charges against them. Further, the accomplice jury instruction did not contain the mens rea element required by HRS § 702-222. The court also found that defendants were prejudiced by the prosecutions' improper remarks, including a comment during jury selection that "if nobody has done anything wrong, we wouldn't be here."