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Name: People v. Scott, et al.
Case #: S136498
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 02/19/2009

For the crime of robbery, all employees on duty have a representative capacity to the employer and a sufficient possessory interest in their employer’s property, such that they can be victims. In this case, there were three employees on duty when appellant and two others entered a McDonald’s restaurant to rob it. One had a gun and another had a rifle. Two of the employees hid during the robbery. Responsibilities for one of these employees included working the cash register but the other employee’s duties involved food preparation only. The third employee was the manager who had access to the safe. She was directed to the back office where she opened the safe and placed money into a bag and handed it to one of the robbers. At trial, defense counsel told the jury that they would have to decide if the employees who had no access to the safe had constructive possession of the stolen property. On review, the Supreme Court considered the existing conflict between People v. Jones (2000) 82 Cal.App.4th 485 and People v. Frazer (2003) 106 Cal.App.4th 1105 and, disapproving Frazer which called for a fact specific, narrow view of constructive possession, found that Jones correctly stated the law. Jones focused on the relationship between employee and employer and found that by virtue of the employment relationship between the two, the employee, when on duty, has some implied authority to act on the employer’s behalf to protect the employer’s property when it is threatened during a robbery and, thus, is a victim regardless of actual possession of the property or control over it.