May 16, 2009 By Wallin & Klarich

California Supreme Court Confirms Its Position on Robbery Issue, Meaning You Need an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney

The California Supreme Court recently clarified a conflict in the Court of Appeal concerning whether, for purposes of Robbery, all employees have constructive possession of the employer’s property while on duty and thus may be separate victims of the employer’s business. The court held that all employees on duty during a robbery in California DO in fact have constructive possession of their employer’s property and therefore any employee on duty can be a separate victim of the robbery, thus increasing the likelihood of longer prison sentences for those convicted of robbery where multiple employees are on duty.

In the case at issue, People v Scott, Defendants Andre Scott and Maurice Kenney were each charged with three counts of Robbery based on a single incident which was the early morning robbery of a McDonald’s in Sacramento. The three alleged victims were employees on duty at the restaurant that morning. One of the employees was working the drive-thru window and when she saw two masked men enter the restaurant, one with a gun, she immediately ducked down and hid under the grill where she remained for the duration of the incident of theft in California. Another employee was preparing food in the back when the robbery started and she hid under a table for the duration of the robbery. The third employee, a manager, was the only employee with access to the safe and was directed to the safe where she opened it and placed money in a bag along with a tracking device that the suspects made off with. The suspects were apprehended shortly thereafter when police located them using the tracking device.

During trial, the Defense argued that the two employees who did not have access to the safe were not proper victims of the robbery because they did not have constructive possession of the money and therefore only one charge of robbery was proper as to the manager who did have access to the safe. The District Attorney argued that all three of the employees had constructive possession of the property because they were all engaged in performing their duties at the time of the robbery.

The Trial Court agreed with the DA and the Supreme Court affirmed that the conclusion that employees have constructive possession of their employer’s property when they are present during a robbery is consistent with a long line of cases involving the constructive possession issue and also consistent with the intent of the legislature. As a result of this case, Defendant Scott was sentenced to 116 years, 8 months to life in prison and Defendant Kenney was sentenced to a term of 30 years, 8 months. This case clarifies just how serious robbery cases are and will ensure lengthier sentences for those convicted of a robbery where multiple employees are present.

If you or anyone you know is being suspected of committing robbery, it is essential that an experienced California criminal defense attorney be contacted, such as those at Wallin & Klarich. Contact Wallin & Klarich today at 1-888-280-6839. Also, visit us online at to learn more about your case and what can be done.

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