ILNews

Partial residential entry enough for conviction

Jennifer Nelson
January 1, 2007
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Whether your whole body, the upper half, or just a hand enters someone else's home, that's enough to be considered "entering" under Indiana statute for conviction of residential entry. The Court of Appeals ruled today on the definition of entering a dwelling under the residential entry statute, something the courts haven't defined in previous cases.

In Robert Williams v. State, 49A05-0612-CR-688, Williams appealed his conviction for residential entry, a Class D felony, arguing that only the upper half of his body leaned into the victim's residence through a window he had broken. To be convicted, he argued, his entire body had to enter the residence.

Williams went to the residence of a person identified as "Brown" in the brief, with whom he was romantically involved. When Brown refused to let Williams into the residence, he broke a bedroom window and leaned his upper half of his body through the window. Brown called the police and Williams was charged with residential entry and other offenses. After a jury trial Aug. 24, 2006, Williams was found guilty of residential entry and was sentence to three years incarceration, which was enhanced by 910 days because he was a habitual offender.

Defining "entering" under the statute for residential entry is new territory for the courts, wrote Chief Judge John Baker in the opinion. Williams argued the residential entry statute should require the entire body to enter a residence because the statute does not require an intention to commit a felony as the residential burglary statute does. In citing cases from California and Kansas, the rule is that any breach of the threshold by any body part constitutes entry in jurisdictions that have construed its burglary statute along those lines.

"Williams proposed rule of complete entry would lead to the absurd result that an individual could avoid prosecution for residential entry by simply ensuring that a foot or hand remained outside the threshold of the residence," wrote Chief Judge Baker.

Indeed, entering a home, no matter how slight, violates the occupant's possessory interest in the building and could lead to a dangerous situation. A partial entry into a home creates the same situation that the crime of residential entry is supposed to deter in the same manner as complete entry, and thus partial entry falls under the statute of residential entry.

In the same case, the state cross-appealed, stating Williams' appeal should be thrown out because he did not file the appeal in a timely manner. Although at the end of his trial, Williams said he would not appeal, he did send a letter to the trial court Sept 15, 2006, requesting the appointment of appellate counsel. The trial court appointed the County Public Defender the same day to represent him; however, when the court reporter contacted the County Public Defender's office Oct. 24, the office had not received notice of the trial court's order of the appointment of counsel. Because the time period for filing a notice for appeal had expired, the state argued Williams' appeal should be dismissed.

The Court of Appeals ruled that because Williams had sent the letter in a timely manner, he was not at fault for the failure of the appeal to be filed in a timely fashion and his request for appeal was granted.
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  1. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  2. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

  3. I will agree with that as soon as law schools stop lying to prospective students about salaries and employment opportunities in the legal profession. There is no defense to the fraudulent numbers first year salaries they post to mislead people into going to law school.

  4. The sad thing is that no fish were thrown overboard The "greenhorn" who had never fished before those 5 days was interrogated for over 4 hours by 5 officers until his statement was illicited, "I don't want to go to prison....." The truth is that these fish were measured frozen off shore and thawed on shore. The FWC (state) officer did not know fish shrink, so the only reason that these fish could be bigger was a swap. There is no difference between a 19 1/2 fish or 19 3/4 fish, short fish is short fish, the ticket was written. In addition the FWC officer testified at trial, he does not measure fish in accordance with federal law. There was a document prepared by the FWC expert that said yes, fish shrink and if these had been measured correctly they averaged over 20 inches (offshore frozen). This was a smoke and mirror prosecution.

  5. I love this, Dave! Many congrats to you! We've come a long way from studying for the bar together! :)

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