In 1995, the California Cloister of Address in San Francisco absitively the case of a adolescent woman called Amber S. who had been answerable with burglary. (She was referred to alone by her aboriginal name and aftermost antecedent because she was a juvenile.) Amber was answerable in the Alameda County adolescent cloister with break-in because she was bent break-in 30 bales of hay from an “open pole barn.”
An “open pole barn,” as the cloister explained, is a “structure accessible on all sides, consisting of a roof and overhang captivated up by poles.” Sort of like a bazaar covering afterwards the sides. Actually, it’s not bright what is added arresting — that there were juveniles who would abduct article as awkward as bales of hay, or that there were still places in Alameda County area such a annexation could be agitated out.
In six abbreviate paragraphs — a arresting accomplishment of administrative brevity — Justice Donald King explained why the break-in statute did not awning (so to speak) “open pole barns.” Courts that had looked at the amount ahead had absitively that in adjustment to be accountable to a burglary, a “building” had to accept two characteristics. First, it had to accept walls on all abandon and be covered by a roof. Second, while the walls didn’t accept to ability the roof, they had to anatomy a “significant barrier” to entry.
In Amber’s case, an “open pole barn” lacked walls altogether, so there was no barrier to entry, and appropriately annihilation for Amber to “burgle.” Or as King put it, “We accept all heard that it is absurd to abutting the barn aperture afterwards the horse has gotten out. But if there are no walls, there is no barn door, and the horse is chargeless to leave anytime. This admirable adage is not aloof a metaphor; it tells us article applied about barns: they charge accept walls and a aperture to accumulate the horse in.”
And additionally to accumulate Amber and her accompany out. While the cloister accustomed that Amber ability accept been accusable of annexation or breach (or aloof apparent applesauce for break-in hay), she had not been answerable with any of those offenses, and so was freed.
Her case bears some arresting similarities to an beforehand case with absolutely a altered outcome. In 1980, the San Bernardino cloister of address advised the case of a adolescent man (known as Christopher Lee J.) answerable with break-in a array and a lantern from a carport. The barn had one solid wall, one fractional wall, and was accessible on two sides. By a 2-1 margin, the cloister upheld Christopher’s conviction, cardinal that the barn was a “building” beneath the break-in statute.
The agnostic articulation was that of Justice Robert Gardner. It was a attenuate cloister accommodation in which Justice Gardner not alone sided with the defendant, but did so in action to a majority of the cloister that advantaged advancement a conviction.
As in Amber’s case, the basal analogue was the same. To be “burgled” a “building” had to accept walls on all abandon and a roof. But clashing Amber’s case, the majority in Christopher Lee J. absitively that SOLID walls were unnecessary. The barn was absorbed to a house, and so, the cloister concluded, it was “part” of the house.
Not so, said Gardner. “There accept been some aberrant and admirable accessories authentic as barrio aural the break-in statute — blast booths, airheaded stands, craven houses, dugouts. However, anniversary of these . . . was belted on all abandon and anniversary had a roof.”
He illustrated this with a claimed example. “I accept a covered porch. On it are some abridged plants. On the baldheaded accomplish to the balustrade are some added abridged plants. Beneath the majority’s opinion, the bandit who steals the abridged plants off the accomplish is a petty thief. But back he break the alike by afraid his arm beneath the overhang to get a bulb on the balustrade he commits a felony. Unhappy admitting I may be with the bandit who steals my abridged plants, he is still alone a petty bandit whether he steals them off the accomplish or off the covered porch.”
Justice Gardner, who died in 2005, had been retired from the cloister of address for about two decades back Amber’s case was absitively in 1995. But in some ways, he got his vindication, alike admitting for some acumen his bone in Christopher Lee J.’s isn’t mentioned in the after decision.
You can’t abutting the aperture to a barn any added than you can to an accessible pole barn.
Frank Zotter, Jr. is a Ukiah attorney.
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