State of Tennessee v. Abbie Leann Welch

State of Tennessee v. Abbie Leann Welch
E2018-00240-SC-R11-CD

This appeal concerns the propriety of the defendant’s burglary conviction.  A Knox County grand jury indicted the defendant, Abbie Leann Welch, for misdemeanor theft in violation of Tennessee Code Annotated section 39-14-103, and burglary, a Class D felony, in violation of Tennessee Code Annotated section 39-14-402, for her involvement in a scheme to enter a Walmart retail store, steal merchandise, and have another individual return the merchandise for a gift card.  The defendant previously had been banned from Walmart retail stores for prior acts of shoplifting.  In this case, because the defendant entered Walmart without the effective consent of the owner—said consent having been revoked by letter—and committed a theft therein, the State sought an indictment for burglary rather than criminal trespass.  We hold that the plain language of the burglary statute does not preclude its application to the scenario presented in this case and that, because the statute is clear and unambiguous on its face, we need not review the legislative history to ascertain its meaning.  Application of the burglary statute in these circumstances does not violate due process or prosecutorial discretion.  We affirm the judgment of the Court of Criminal Appeals. 

Authoring Judge: 
Justice Roger A. Page
Originating Judge: 
Judge G. Scott Green
Date Filed: 
Wednesday, February 19, 2020