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Name: People v. Isom
Case #: E061024
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 09/30/2015

There was substantial evidence to support the finding that defendant intended to defraud Walmart where he used altered receipts to obtain full refunds for items he purchased at a discounted price. Isom bought items from Walmart with coupons, altered the receipts to show he had paid full price for the items, and then returned the items to a different Walmart store for a full price refund using the altered receipts. Walmart discovered the scheme and contacted police. Isom was charged with two counts of burglary (Pen. Code, § 459). At trial, evidence was introduced that Walmart’s general store policy is to give full price refunds to people who return items purchased with coupons (so Isom could have used his original receipts to obtain a full refund). A jury found him guilty. Isom appealed, challenging the sufficiency of the evidence. Held: Affirmed. A person may be found guilty of burglary if he enters a store “with intent to commit grand or petit larceny or any felony.” (Pen. Code, § 459.) Here, the prosecutor argued that Isom entered Walmart with the intent to commit forgery, which requires an intent to defraud. (Pen. Code, § 470, subd. (d).) Defraud means to injure someone in their pecuniary or property rights. (Lewis v. Superior Court (1990) 217 Cal.App.3d 379, 394.) Isom admitted that he entered Walmart with an intent to obtain a full refund for items he bought at a discount. An altered receipt was his means of accomplishing this task. This was substantial evidence that he intended to injure Walmart’s pecuniary rights. The fact that Isom would have received a full price refund even without an altered receipt and the fact that he believed Walmart would be reimbursed by the manufacturer do not change the result in this case. Isom “thought he needed the altered receipt, and the intent associated with that thought is what the Penal Code is seeking to deter.”