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Name: People v. Hallam
Case #: B266185
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 09/29/2016

Theft of property worth $350 from business establishment’s employee restroom during regular business hours constitutes misdemeanor shoplifting. In 2011, Hallam entered a computer store and was given permission to use the employee restroom. He then left the store and walked to the back of the establishment and reentered it through a back door. Hallam returned to the employee restroom and stole a compressor worth $350. He was arrested and pleaded guilty to felony second degree burglary. In 2015, he petitioned for redesignation of the offense to misdemeanor shoplifting. The trial court denied the petition because the employee restroom was not accessible to the public and no merchandise was for sale in that area. Hallam appealed. Held: Reversed. Proposition 47 reclassified certain drug and theft-related felonies as misdemeanors for eligible defendants. It added misdemeanor shoplifting to the Penal Code (Pen. Code, § 459.5), defined as entering a commercial establishment with intent to commit larceny while that establishment is open during regular business hours, where the value of the property taken does not exceed $950. A qualified defendant may petition to reduce his offense to a misdemeanor (Pen. Code, § 1170.18, subd. (f)). In this case, the question is whether the employee restroom was a part of the “commercial establishment” within the meaning of section 459.5. The shoplifting statute does not require that the theft occur only in specific areas of a commercial establishment or that the business’ commercial activity be taking place in the area of the theft. Here, the restroom was separate from the main part of the business and was not generally open to the public, but there is no evidence that it was kept locked or provided any more than “a limited transitory source of privacy.” (Citing People v. Garcia (2016) 62 Cal.4th 1116.) As such, the restroom of the store was part of the commercial establishment and Hallam’s theft was shoplifting.

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