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Name: People v. Smith
Case #: A118208
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 4
Opinion Date: 09/29/2000
Summary

Where store owner consents to taking of store’s property, defendant still commits a robbery if he takes store property by means of force of fear from employees unaware of the consent. At appellant’s robbery trial, the prosecution’s theory was that the robbery was an “inside job,” i.e. that it was set up by the store’s owner to collect insurance proceeds. On appeal, Smith contended that based on this theory, there was no robbery as a matter of law because one who takes property with the owner’s consent does not commit a theft crime. The appellate court rejected the argument, holding that when the owner of a store consents to a robbery that occurs while the store is under control of employees who are unaware of the owner’s plan, the owner’s consent does not vitiate the “felonious taking” element of the robbery. If the property taken was in the possession of the owner’s innocent employees, that is sufficient to make the taking felonious. It is the possession of the property, not its ownership, which is the determining factor. This principle makes sense because the risk of injury or death resulting from confrontations between robber and victim is not significantly reduced merely because the victims lacked legal title to the property.