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. He TIL team,please zap this comment too since it was merely marking a scammer and not reflecting on the story. Thanks, happy Monday, keep up the fine work.

  2. You just need my social security number sent to your Gmail account to process then loan, right? Beware scammers indeed.

  3. The appellate court just said doctors can be sued for reporting child abuse. The most dangerous form of child abuse with the highest mortality rate of any form of child abuse (between 6% and 9% according to the below listed studies). Now doctors will be far less likely to report this form of dangerous child abuse in Indiana. If you want to know what this is, google the names Lacey Spears, Julie Conley (and look at what happened when uninformed judges returned that child against medical advice), Hope Ybarra, and Dixie Blanchard. Here is some really good reporting on what this allegation was: http://media.star-telegram.com/Munchausenmoms/ Here are the two research papers: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0145213487900810 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0145213403000309 25% of sibling are dead in that second study. 25%!!! Unbelievable ruling. Chilling. Wrong.

  4. Mr. Levin says that the BMV engaged in misconduct--that the BMV (or, rather, someone in the BMV) knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged fees but did nothing to correct the situation. Such misconduct, whether engaged in by one individual or by a group, is called theft (defined as knowingly or intentionally exerting unauthorized control over the property of another person with the intent to deprive the other person of the property's value or use). Theft is a crime in Indiana (as it still is in most of the civilized world). One wonders, then, why there have been no criminal prosecutions of BMV officials for this theft? Government misconduct doesn't occur in a vacuum. An individual who works for or oversees a government agency is responsible for the misconduct. In this instance, somebody (or somebodies) with the BMV, at some time, knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged. What's more, this person (or these people), even after having the error of their ways pointed out to them, did nothing to fix the problem. Instead, the overcharges continued. Thus, the taxpayers of Indiana are also on the hook for the millions of dollars in attorneys fees (for both sides; the BMV didn't see fit to avail itself of the services of a lawyer employed by the state government) that had to be spent in order to finally convince the BMV that stealing money from Indiana motorists was a bad thing. Given that the BMV official(s) responsible for this crime continued their misconduct, covered it up, and never did anything until the agency reached an agreeable settlement, it seems the statute of limitations for prosecuting these folks has not yet run. I hope our Attorney General is paying attention to this fiasco and is seriously considering prosecution. Indiana, the state that works . . . for thieves.

  5. I'm glad that attorney Carl Hayes, who represented the BMV in this case, is able to say that his client "is pleased to have resolved the issue". Everyone makes mistakes, even bureaucratic behemoths like Indiana's BMV. So to some extent we need to be forgiving of such mistakes. But when those mistakes are going to cost Indiana taxpayers millions of dollars to rectify (because neither plaintiff's counsel nor Mr. Hayes gave freely of their services, and the BMV, being a state-funded agency, relies on taxpayer dollars to pay these attorneys their fees), the agency doesn't have a right to feel "pleased to have resolved the issue". One is left wondering why the BMV feels so pleased with this resolution? The magnitude of the agency's overcharges might suggest to some that, perhaps, these errors were more than mere oversight. Could this be why the agency is so "pleased" with this resolution? Will Indiana motorists ever be assured that the culture of incompetence (if not worse) that the BMV seems to have fostered is no longer the status quo? Or will even more "overcharges" and lawsuits result? It's fairly obvious who is really "pleased to have resolved the issue", and it's not Indiana's taxpayers who are on the hook for the legal fees generated in these cases.

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