Law Review: Shoplifter banned from all Home Depot stores
You’ve heard it before, “Crime doesn’t pay.” Unless you are Al Capone then it paid well. Perhaps that expression best describes bank robbers. I mean, who robs a bank?
SHOPLIFTING FROM HOME DEPOT
Jeffrey Michael Moran entered a Home Depot store in San Jose, placed items valued at $128.00 in his backpack, and left the store without paying. Confronted by store security, he admitted the theft saying he hoped to resell the stolen items. For the pittance he might have netted, it certainly was not the perfect crime.
Moran pled no contest (guilty without admitting it) to second-degree burglary, and having served a prior prison term for vehicle theft. He was sentenced to one year in jail, and agreed to the condition that he “not go on the premises, parking lot adjacent or any store of Home Depot in the State of California.”
After you get caught stealing from Home Depot and enter a no contest plea, what’s the next thing you do (besides sneak into a Home Depot just for the fun of it), you appeal because you have a free lawyer paid by for the Golden State.
On appeal, the Sixth Appellate Court of Appeal found that being banned from all Home Depot stores in California was unconstitutionally overbroad, because the condition should have allowed Moran to go to a Home Depot property “on legitimate business.” What the heck kind of decision is that? The Court of Appeal was saying: you’re banned from Home Depot unless you go there on legitimate business, and then you’re not banned. Oh, that makes sense.
The Court of Appeal also concluded that being banned from Home Depot stores violated Moran’s “constitutional right to travel” even though Moran could travel anywhere he wanted in the state. Hmm.
CALIFORNIA SUPREME COURT
People v. Moran made it all the way to the California Supreme Court, which took a different view.
The Supreme Court ruled that “because prohibiting Defendant (Moran) from entering Home Depot stores is reasonably directed at curbing his future criminality by preventing him from returning to the scene of his past transgression and thus helping him avoid any temptation of repeating his socially undesirable behavior” the ban was appropriate. Overly dramatic, but we get the point.
The Supreme Court was not impressed with Moran’s “unconstitutional” argument regarding the Home Depot stay-away condition writing, “He remains free to drive on any public freeway, street or road, use public transportation, work (except in Home Depot stores), shop, visit a doctor’s office, attend school, enjoy parks, libraries, museums, restaurants, bars, clubs, and movie theaters. He may — without violating the challenge condition — freely move about his community, the city and the State of California. In short, the restriction on his movement imposed by the probation condition is too de minimis to implicate the constitutional travel rights.”
I couldn’t agree more.
Jim Porter is an attorney with Porter Simon licensed in California and Nevada, with offices in Truckee and Tahoe City, and Reno. His practice areas include: real estate, development, construction, business, HOA’s, contracts, personal injury, accidents, mediation and other transactional matters. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or http://www.portersimon.com.