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California Supreme Court: a balcony is part of a residence in burglary case

Prosecutors had claimed that the defendant climbed onto a second floor balcony outside an apartment. Two bicycles were reportedly stored on the balcony. However, a dog inside the building began barking and the resident of the apartment came out to confront the man who was allegedly on the balcony. Prosecutors claimed that the man fled the balcony without taking anything.

Police later arrested a man and claim that he was the one on the balcony. The trial court judge ruled that the second floor balcony was a part of the residence. The case went before a jury, and the panel returned a guilty verdict.

On appeal, a California Court of Appeal in Los Angeles held that the balcony was not an enclosed area of the apartment and threw out the burglary conviction. Prosecutors brought the case to the California Supreme Court, and the high court reinstated the burglary conviction.

The high court ruled that the second floor balcony is designed to only be accessible from the inside of the individual apartment. The court ruled that the railing surrounding such a balcony marks the outside boundary of the living space of the apartment itself. The court held that any slight crossing of that outer boundary is sufficient to constitute an entry under California's burglary statute.

Source: OC Weekly, "After Flip Flops, California Judges Decide if a Balcony is Part of a Residence," R. Scott Moxley, July 21, 2012

Tagged in: burglary/robbery
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