Idaho Woman Faces 10 Years for Stealing Can of Beer

By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on August 18, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Police in Boise, Idaho arrested Victoria Hill on Thursday after the 35-year-old woman walked into a local grocery store and left without paying for her 23 ounce can of high-alcohol Steel Reserve beer.

Hill has now been charged with felony burglary--a crime that carries with it a sentence of no less than one year, but also no more than 10 years.

Wait, since when does stealing a $1.50 can of beer from a open grocery store equate to felony burglary?

While historically burglary has been defined as "breaking and entering into a building with the intent to commit a designated crime therein," many states, including Idaho have gotten rid of the "breaking and entering" part of the crime.

Burglarly law in Idaho therefore merely requires that someone enter a structure with the intent to commit any theft or felony therein.

"Breaking and entering" has thus been reduced to entering the premises with an unlawful purpose.

Boise Police Department spokesman Chuck McClure told Reuters that charging officers extrapolated the required intent from Victoria Hill's actions.

"She did stick the beer in her purse, which kind of says intent right there, and she walked past open registers before exiting the establishment."

While ordinarily Hill would be able to argue that 1 year (let alone 10) in prison for a $1.50 theft is a disproportionate punishment and thus violative of her 8th Amendment rights, this isn't her first offense.

Victoria Hill pled guilty to grand theft in 2004 according to Reuters, which seriously complicates her defense.

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